FWC: Speed, alcohol factors in double fatal boat crash
2 killed when boat struck dock in St. Augustine on Memorial Day weekend
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Speed and alcohol were contributing factors in a double fatal boat crash on Memorial Day weekend in St. Augustine, according to a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission report released Wednesday.
Three people were thrown from the 18-foot Stumpknocker boat after it crashed into a dock along the Intracoastal Waterway. Two of them died and one survived.
FWC investigators said the driver of the boat, 52-year-old Chris Hall (pictured below with his mother), was too intoxicated to drive, with a blood alcohol level nearly two times the legal limit at the time of the crash.
Married couple Tim and Alicia Babb (pictured at bottom of story), 52 and 50 respectively, were also thrown from the boat. Alicia Babb was the sole survivor.
The report says before the accident that evening, the trio went to a bar. Alicia Babb told officers they knew they had a few beers and needed to get home.
Around 10 p.m., they got back on their boat headed north toward the Vilano Beach Boat Ramp. The report says Hall was speeding while driving close to the boat docks.
The report says Hall did not use any other form of light to navigate except for the standard navigational lights required for his boat.
Hall's mother, Margarett Hall, and friend Gwen Pierce are disappointed by the report. By phone, Pierce said the family wished they had been notified about the FWC's findings before releasing the information to the media.
Hall's family issued this statement:
"We were saddened to awaken to the findings of the FWC and disappointed that there was no attempt to contact the family to discuss the findings of their investigation prior to releasing the report to the local media and public. There was no opportunity to obtain or make inquiry into the details of the accident with regard to the high tide, swift-moving current, cloudy conditions, nor whether or not the dock had adequate lighting.
"We still have questions in our own minds. This was a tragic accident that has left two families mourning the loss of two special people. Chris was a kindhearted, caring and responsible person who took boating very seriously. He and his friends launched in the early evening for an evening ride on the intra-coastal and it turned into a tragic ending for our families. We regret the ending more than you can imagine and miss our loved ones immeasurably."
The report also says Hall failed to have his passengers help him navigate through the dark, which was in violation of federal navigational rules and Florida statue.
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