Legislation sponsored by Senator Jim Holzapfel (R-10) establishing criminal penalties for leaving the scene of a boating accident has been approved by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.
Sen. Donald Norcross (l) and Sen. Jim Holzapfel (r) with Bonnie Post at a meeting of the Senate Law & Public Safety Committee on June 17, 2013. Post, whose husband Robert was killed in a hit-and-run boating accident, was present to testify in support of legislation (S-2859) sponsored by Norcross and Holzapfel to enhance the penalty for leaving the scene of a boating accident. (SenateNJ.com)
“Now that our summer season has begun, residents are anxious to return to the water and safety is always our first concern. With more boaters on our waterways, accidents are bound to happen. This bill will increase the penalty of leaving a boating accident to a second degree offense if the other party dies as a result of their injuries,” said Senator Holzapfel.
This bill, S-2859, was introduced in response to a boating accident in Ocean County where the operator of the boat left the scene of the accident that caused the death of one person and injured two others. Included in the bill are increased penalties for failure of the operator to provide assistance to anyone involved in the accident.
The bill is modeled after current law, which makes it a second degree crime to leave the scene of a motor vehicle accident that results in the death of a passenger, and a third degree crime when the accident results in serious bodily injury. A second degree crime is punishable by five to 10 years imprisonment, a fine of up to $150,000, or both. A crime of the third degree is punishable by three to five years imprisonment, a fine of up to $15,000, or both.
This legislation was created in response to a boating accident in 2008 in which Anthony DiGilio ran over the top of a 16 ½ -foot Boston Whaler with his 27-foot Imperial speed boat on the Metedeconk River, killing Robert Post and injuring two other passengers. DiGilio fled the scene in his boat and did not call authorities.
“Jail time is a necessary punishment for offenders who knowingly leave the scene of the accident. We want our residents to put safety first when heading out onto the water and understand that they are responsible for their craft and searching for other injured parties,” added Holzapfel.