Galveston ferry drowning shows maritime hazards

A Texas woman died after she fell from a ferry running between Bolivar Peninsula and Galveston Island on July 24, 2012. While the cause of her death is unknown, this accident emphasizes the risks of maritime transportation.

The 45-year-old Sugar Land woman was standing next to a railing aboard the Bolivar Peninsula ferry when witnesses saw her fall overboard and into the ocean. The Coast Guard found her body later that evening about 1,500 feet away from the location of her fall. Authorities are investigating why the passenger fell and whether the ferry’s crew responded appropriately.

This case illustrates the risks inherent in maritime transportation. Ordinarily, negligence cases look at a wide range of circumstances in an attempt to determine whether defendants acted with reasonable care to avoid foreseeable injuries or deaths.

The same analysis applies in the maritime context-but the range of relevant facts can change unexpectedly when an accident occurs at sea. For example, when a normal negligence case would examine whether a boat operator maintained a railing in a safe condition, a maritime negligence case would also need to determine whether the deck was unreasonably wet from ocean spray, whether the ocean conditions were rough at the time of the accident, or a number of other things.

Source: Houston Chronicle, “Woman’s fatal fall from Galveston ferry under investigation,” Robert Stanton, July 24, 2012