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Boy, 12, dies in mishap from sailing accident

Summer is a great time to get out on the water in boats, feeling the salt spray from the waves and enjoying the beauty of nature. Of course, those who plan to go boating should receive proper instruction on how to sail or pilot their boats, including steps they should take if an emergency arises.

Sadly, last month one young boy who was doing just that was killed in a freak accident in the waters off the shore of Long Island's Centerport Yacht Club.

According to U.S. Coast Guard officials, at approximately 2:30 p.m. on July 18, a trio of students was taking a sailing lesson that focused on what to do if a sailboat capsizes. The Assistant Police Commissioner of Suffolk County stated that, as part of their planned lesson, their sailboat was purposely capsized.

Although two students managed to remain with their vessel even as it took on water, a third fell into the water. His instructor was nearby in an inflatable Zodiac rescue boat. He was able to pull the 12-year-old from the water and got him inside the inflatable boat. However, for unknown reasons, the child fell back into the ocean where the propeller struck him, the assistant commissioner reported.

His instructor again got him back into the boat and attempted CPR, as did the harbor master when he arrived at the accident scene. First responders from the Centerport Fire Department arrived to transport the boy to Huntington Hospital, where doctors pronounced him dead.

Any parent would be devastated to have something like that occur to their child, especially since they were trying to ensure the boy's safety by giving him sailing lessons. But any time people go out on the water in boats, disasters can happen. It's not always possible to plan for every potential scenario, yet it appears that these parents had certainly tried.

No mention was made whether the sailing instructor faces any criminal charges in the boy's tragic death. But a lack of criminal culpability in an incident where a person is seriously injured or killed does not negate the possibility that civil litigation could potentially be filed against the instructor who was providing the sailing lesson.

In similar cases where a professional is in charge of teaching adults or children how to swim or boat, the instructor could be liable for any injuries or deaths if negligence was a factor. If you suffered injuries due to another person's negligence — or if a family member died — you may want to discover what avenues of compensation and justice are available to you.

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