Misdemeanor charges filed against boat driver in fatal Labor Day Boca Chita crash

Authorities announced on Friday that charges were filed against the operator of a boat involved in a crash that killed a high school senior over the weekend at Bay Cutler Day Labor.

According to prosecutors and officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the 29-foot vessel driven by 52-year-old George Pino with 14 passengers on board capsized after crashing into a channel marker near Boca Chita Key on September 4, 2022. All passengers were thrown into the water.

The crash resulted in the death of Luciana Fernandez, a 17-year-old, and caused harm to most of the people on board the ship.

According to prosecutors, Pino was charged with two instances of reckless operation of a watercraft resulting in severe physical harm and one instance of reckless operation of a watercraft resulting in death, all of which are classified as second-degree misdemeanors.

A statement from the Lucy Fernandez Foundation was shared through a post on Instagram.

She died in vain and her life did not matter. Today, the Fernandez Foundation reaffirms its unwavering commitment to Lucy’s memory. This report sheds light on some harsh truths, highlighting the dire need for accountability and change in our system. It also hypothesizes about the contributing factors to Lucy’s boating accident, highlighting the importance of promoting watercraft and boater safety. This underscores the mission of our Foundation, which is not only to shed light on injustices in our system but also to promote safety.

The collision played a role in the FWC’s declaration that Pino “did pilot his watercraft in a negligent fashion by infringing upon four navigational regulations.” The vessel was moving at a speed of 45-47 miles per hour, as per the FWC incident report.

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Prosecutors stated that Pino was not under the influence of substances or alcohol while operating the vessel. During the investigation, authorities discovered 61 vacant containers of alcoholic beverages, along with an empty champagne bottle and a partially consumed liquor bottle on the boat. Additionally, no individuals acknowledged consuming alcohol, as stated in FWC’s incident report.

The Fernandez family’s spokesperson stated that the Fernandezes are extremely distraught and devastated and they need some time to gather their thoughts and process the conclusions and findings of the report.

A lawyer representing the family of Pino released a statement following the announcement of the charges.

The Office of the Attorney General and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have confirmed that this was not an alcohol-related accident, as multiple witnesses observed another boat causing a large wake that led to the loss of control. The Pinos have already pledged to provide medical support and compensation to everyone affected by this terrible accident. They also continue to pray for the family and individuals involved each day.

According to sources who informed NBC6, the majority of the passengers on the boat in Miami-Dade County were teenage students from Our Lady of Lourdes Academy and Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart, both all-girls Catholic schools. Fernandez, who was a senior at Our Lady of Lourdes Academy at the time of the accident, was also among them.

Prosecutors stated that the boat crashed while transporting multiple adults and a cohort of students back to the dock. The collision caused a significant rupture in the vessel’s side and forcefully propelled numerous passengers into the water. The vessel in question, a Robalo, was furnished with two 300 horsepower engines.

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The majority of the passengers suffered injuries, including two students who were severely hurt.

Alberto Maza, the Commander of the Bravo Regional Commander in the South Region, expressed, ‘The Miami community was deeply affected by this boating incident.’ ‘In a moment, numerous lives were permanently altered.’ ‘Our hearts still ache for the victims of this calamity.’ ‘The report contains answers that can offer some solace.’ ‘Our investigators have concluded a thorough examination of the accident and are optimistic.’

Damage to the boat

Former prosecutor Michael Grieco stated, “You will certainly witness legal action initiated by numerous family members.” “That concludes it,” pressing charges while deliberating the intentions for the involved attorney’s office, proclaimed the former state attorney.

According to Grieco, if Pino were to proceed to trial, there is a possibility of him being subjected to imprisonment. The outcome, however, hinges on the plea deal proposed by the State Attorney or the eventual judgment passed by a judge. Grieco, who has no involvement in the case, stated this.

The attorney of Pino stated that there are unresolved criminal charges and legal disputes.

NBC6 contacted the attorney representing the family and they are currently awaiting a response. Katerina Puig, who is 18 years old, sustained severe injuries in the accident.

The Miami-Dade Fire Rescue (MDFR) reminds boaters, especially those on Labor Day, to always have functioning life jackets, ensure equipment safety, and adhere to safety protocols.

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