The United States Coast Guard and Hawaii Police were called to investigate a boating accident on the evening of Monday, April 4th, 2022. A crew member on a manta-ray boat had been fatally injured in a prop strike accident while conducting a nighttime manta ray tour.
Theresa Butts, a 54-year-old mother of two from Kailua-Kona, was identified by her family members as the victim of this tragic incident. She had been taken to Kona Community Hospital with severe lacerations; terribly, her critical condition did not improve and she passed.
Official details remain sparse, but it is believed that the victim was a crew member on the Uhane Nui O Naia, a 40-foot boat operated by Sunlight on Water for nighttime manta ray tours. The Sunlight on Water tour company has not released any statements on the matter.
Initial reports implied that Butts had fallen from the boat and been injured by the propeller of that same boat. However, her family members publicly remarked that reports of Theresa Butts falling off the boat were false. Jeanette Butts, one of Theresa's daughters, commented "this was not negligence on her part or her deckhands."
Additional comments from individuals familiar with nighttime manta ray tours carried out off the coast of Kailua-Kona noted that the activity has become increasingly popular in recent years. Indeed, dozens of tour boats and hundreds of swimmers can be present at a single tour site at the same time.
Accordingly, it's possible that Butts was in the water when she was struck by the propeller of another tour boat. Indeed, Butt's daughter also stated, " This comes down to negligence of ownership and the captain," which could indicate that the operator of a different tour company boat was responsible for the tragedy.
Hawaii PD has withheld additional details that could aid the public in understanding the circumstances of the incident. Unquestionably, they will release more information after the proper investigative procedures are conducted.
The conditions surrounding a boating accident can be very dynamic; indeed as dynamic as the ocean itself. Therefore, determining who is responsible for damages following a boat accident can be very difficult if not impossible without professional experience.
Boat operators are often the first ones to be blamed. Yet, in many instances, boat operators can be the victims of negligence themselves. Businesses that own a vessel involved in an injury-causing accident may also be held responsible. For instance, if a boat rental company allows an inexperienced captain to take one of their vessels out on the water and this results in an accident, the rental company may be found liable by a court.
The seemingly endless federal and state laws that come into play in boating accident cases can likewise make them much more difficult to navigate. Ultimately, boating accident victims or family members who believe they were wronged by the negligence of another individual should contact an experienced boat accident attorney who can take a look at their case. Only by analyzing every aspect of such accidents in depth will victims be able to fully understand their rights and their specific legal options.
Through a civil claim, victims can fight for compensation that covers their expenses. These expenses or damages can include medical bills, funeral or burial costs, remuneration for pain & suffering, loss of consortium or companionship, and more. Each boating accident claim is different from the rest, so comparing compensation amounts with past cases is not recommended. To get a better idea of what kind of damages you may be entitled to, contact our experienced team today.