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"Ethan's Law" Honors the Sarasota Boy Killed in a Youth Sailboat Accident Last November

February 09, 2021

SARASOTA, FL - Florida Representative Fiona McFarland has announced that she will be introducing new legislation to honor the memory of Ethan Isaacs.  The 10-year-old was tragically killed a boating accident last November.  The fatal accident occurred during a youth sailing practice.  The child was hit by a driverless boat after its operator lost his footing and fell overboard, leaving the motorboat in gear and moving without an operator. Two other young children were also injured in the accident.

Ethan's Law would require drivers of powerboats under 26 feet in length to wear an engine cutoff device.  An engine cutoff bracelet or device is worn by the boat's driver.  If the driver's body moves away from the boat's throttle, the device detaches from the boat's throttle and this causes the boat's engine to automatically shut off.  In the accident, the boat operator fell over board.  If the driver wore this device, the boat would have shut down and stopped preventing the fatal boat crash.  Currently, seven other states have similar laws on the books.  The U.S. Coast Guard is going to ratify this new rule this year.

According to the victim's mother, she stated that the grieving process helped her family find a purpose and have a meaningful way to move through the healing process.  She stated that she decided to contact Representative McFarland to help prevent another family from enduring this kind of tragedy.

Representative McFarland stated that she is receiving substantial support for the proposed law.  She is currently working with boat manufacturers, boat owners, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), associations, and other marine safety advocates to craft the bill's language. 

According to the news report, there have been 95 boating accidents caused by drivers falling overboard, and 79 of those accidents resulted in an injury or fatality since 2015.

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Category: Personal Injury

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