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'Leaving the Scene' Boating Accident Bill Heads to Christie's Desk

Boats traversing Manasquan Inlet. (Patch File Photo: Daniel Nee)
Boats traversing Manasquan Inlet. (Patch File Photo: Daniel Nee)
A bill inspired by a fatal Brick Township boating accident that would strengthen the penalties for leaving the scene of a serious boating accidents is awaiting Gov. Chris Christie's signature.

The state's General Assembly passed the bill 78-0 on Thursday. A Senate version of the bill passed that chamber earlier this year.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. James Holzapfel and Assembly members David Wolfe and Gregory P. McGuckin (all R-Ocean) would bring the penalties for leaving the scene of a boating accident that results in the serious injury or death of a person involved in line with the penalties for leaving the scene of an accident on a roadway.

As it stands now, while illegal, there is no set penalty for such an offense under state law, which means someone convicted of leaving the scene would face no more than a $25 fine.

The effort to strengthen penalties picked up steam in the wake of a fatal boating accident in Brick that claimed the life of Robert Post, an Essex Fells resident who owned a summer home in Point Pleasant Borough.

In the case, a Brick man, Anthony DiGilio, then 29, was charged with operating his 27-foot Imperial performance boat recklessly and then speeding away from the scene of the accident. Though his damaged boat was recovered and he eventually faced vehicular homicide charges, DiGilio was found not guilty in April 2013.

After the jury's verdict, interest in strengthening the "leaving the scene" law spiked and the bill – held up for years in the state legislature – began to move.

Under the proposed law, if an accident results in serious bodily injury, a person who leaves the scene could face a third degree criminal charge, punishable by three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000. If the accident results in a person's death, the charge would be upgraded to the second degree, bringing with it a potential five to 10 year prison term and a fine of up to $250,000.

The bill will now become law if Christie chooses to sign it.

“Boaters are responsible for their craft and searching for other injured parties if an accident should occur," said McGuckin. "This bill will strengthen the boating laws in New Jersey to ensure that the crimes of negligent boaters will no longer go unrecognized."
William May 24, 2014 at 07:22 AM
No Laws make the waters safer, NJ made it mandatory to gain a Capt. Lic, Did it make it safer, Or just a bunch of wannabes calling each other Capt, No amount of Laws make for safer conditions First you have to Fix Stupid.
Joey Joe May 24, 2014 at 09:08 AM
@Bill Waple - NJ did NOT make it mandatory to obtain a Captains License !!!! What they did do is to make it mandatory to take a Boating Safety Course and obtain a certificate. Without going into too much detail - A USCG Captains License comes in many different forms depending on the type/weight of the boat the candidate will be operating. What is commonly called a 6-pak license allows the operator 6 paying passengers max. This is the most popular license possessed by most private Sport Fishing Boat Operators. Party Boat Captains must possess a higher grade license as do larger craft operators. The state made it mandatory to get a Safety Certificate which includes a test. If you don't pass the test you don't get the certificate and therefore you are legally NOT able to operate any type of motorized craft. Trust me...a USCG Captains License is MUCH MUCH MUCH harder to qualify for and to obtain. This is similar to Motor Vehicle Licensing - a Class D license is much easier to obtain than a Class C (CDL). A Class D driver cannot legally drive a tractor trailer nor can a Class C, and even a Class C, B, or A cannot operate a vehicle carrying HazMat without the appropriate endorsement attached to their CDL. I agree that there is "NO CERTIFICATE" or "LICENSE" for that matter that guarantees safety and there is also no way to fix STUPID....but the direct hit of a 2 X 4 across the back of the head can help in the effort to do so.
William May 24, 2014 at 12:17 PM
Thanks for the lengthily explanation Licence - certificate yes my mistype just get a kick out of how one passes a course and goes around with a title Capt. I have been a Boat operator for 60 or so years From Row Boat, 52 ft craft to Navy Helmsman 1st class & LCVP and many others attended Navy Boat handling school Little Creek Norfolk, VA . No I did not Take That Course nor will I. I have the title off Passenger. And that 2x4 has to be applied to the Forehead LOL
Joey Joe May 24, 2014 at 11:35 PM
LOL, back of the head --- front of the head....either way it usually has no effect on the truly stupid... besides making the recipient drool a bit more than usual....

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