Pompano Beach's Hillsboro Inlet has a reputation as a frequently dangerous waterway. Despite this reputation, a dive boat tried to navigate the inlet in extremely rough conditions on Thanksgiving Day. As the boat was headed back to dock after finishing a trip with 21 divers, a strong wave flipped it over and threw all of its occupants into the water.
One woman became trapped under the boat and drowned to death. While boating accidents can easily occur in the best of conditions, some observers have harshly criticized the dive company's decision to send a boat through the inlet in rough seas. This suggests that the company took an unreasonably dangerous risk - it could be liable in a wrongful death lawsuit.
For example, the Sun Sentinel quoted a local weather forecaster's description of the inlet as a "drowning machine" in rough weather. On Thursday, a combination of weather factors resulted in big "row waves" as high as 13 feet. Another meteorologist told the Sun Sentinel: "If that ship hit one of the row waves, I can see why it flipped over." He added: "Local marine people in that area know how dangerous the inlet can be and it's a shame that this boat went out under these hazardous circumstances."
While the Coast Guard is still investigating why the boat capsized, statements like these might suggest that the dive company is to blame for risking its passengers' lives. Depending on a number of factors, it could end up liable for the diver's unnecessary death.
Source: Sun Sentinel, "Diver's Thanksgiving Day death ruled a drowning," Tonya Alanez and Ken Kaye, Nov. 23, 2012