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It’s been nearly a year since Bobby Ray Ussery, a Virginia Beach, Virginia (VA) man died while enjoying a boat ride with his friend, Kurt Jon Riffey of Chesapeake, Virginia (VA). It turns out Riffey was intoxicated while operating the boat. He struck a marker in the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River and Ussery was hit in the head causing his death on the boat, according to The Virginian-Pilot.

As a personal injury attorney who’s been practicing law for over two decades, the safety of boaters is important to me. Furthermore, it’s so tragic to hear about a boat-related death and recognize it could have been prevented with basic responsibility on the part of the boat operator.

Clearly, Riffey exercised a horrendous lack in judgment and responsibility by drinking heavily and operating a boat. This type of behavior is dangerous, but sadly far too common in the waters of the Elizabeth River and throughout Virginia (VA). In fact, half of all boating fatalities are alcohol related, according to

Boating accidents have increased in Virginia (VA) to the point where the Coast Guard is requesting boaters be more mindful while in the water, according to The Virginian-Pilot.

I implore any one who plans to operate a boat this summer to exercise proper judgment and responsibility – refrain from drinking and operating a boat. I understand the temptation, especially if you’re enjoying a casual outing with friends and family on the water. However, you’re responsible for the safety of not only yourself but your passengers on the boat. If you engage in drinking while on a boat, turn over the keys to someone capable of operating the boat.

This is common sense, but the numbers clearly indicate the message isn’t reaching people. So, in very clear, simple terms: do not mix alcohol and boating. The combination could be fatal.

About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm is based in Virginia (VA), near the NE North Carolina (NC) border and handles car,truck,railroad, and medical negligence cases and more. Our lawyers proudly edit the Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono public information service. Lawyers licensed in: VA, NC, SC, WV, DC, KY.


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