Tragic accident here, but completely avoidable by all parties involved.

As you can see from my signature, I owned and regularly operated a 69’ long 2-story houseboat with 2 helms: upper deck forward; lower deck forward and inside. Like all large vessels, you can’t see what’s behind the vessel from the helm when backing up, especially from the inside helm. When available, my wife would usually be on the stern as the lookout when I was reversing, but there were several times no one was there to assist me. I’d always check the waters around me and toot the horn 3 times, and then begin backing up.

The boat involved in this accident was a 3 story houseboat that was beached bow-in to the shore - very typical for aluminum hulled houseboats to do. From what the article says, the houseboat captain did his due diligence in checking behind the vessel and yelling “clear” before backing the vessel off the shore. I can’t say where everyone was in relation to the houseboat when the captain yelled “clear”, but I’m sure he started his engines, which should have been another indicator he was about to move. The charges against the houseboat captain states he was “driving recklessly” because he was going full throttle in reverse. Clearly, the DA knows NOTHING about boats! How the hell else do you pull a 100K Lb 3-story vessel off the shore!? It’s VERY typical to have to do that to pull the bow off the beach.

My contention with this whole thing is: how did the 4 year old get behind a giant houseboat unsupervised? Being a 3 story houseboat, I’ll assume it’s at least 70’ long – that’s pretty conservative. The 3 story houseboats I’ve seen are typically in the 100’+ club. Elsewhere in the article, it says the girl and parents were on someone else’s boat for the girl’s 1st time on a boat. That friend’s boat must have been either (1) anchored close behind the houseboat (very unlikely) or it was (2) beached, like the houseboat was. So, again, this 4 year old girl somehow managed to swim out behind this boat, while engines were running and captain yells “clear”….. Things are not adding up here.

I’m pinning more of the blame on the 4 year old’s parents. The charges against the houseboat captain are completely drummed-up and a good lawyer should be able get them reduced. It’s crap like this that scares the crap out of me when boating. Very sad for everyone involved.