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Another Step Forward for 'Leaving the Scene' Boating Safety Law

Bill inspired by Brick Township boating accident

Patch File Photo: Daniel Nee
Patch File Photo: Daniel Nee
An effort to toughen New Jersey's penalty for leaving the scene of a boating accident received a boost this week, with its successful referral out of a state Assembly committee.

The bill, inspired by a 2008 boating accident in Brick, would bring the penalties for leaving the scene of a boating accident that results in a person's death or serious injury in line with the same penalties that apply for car accidents.

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 bill passed the full state Senate 39-0 earlier this year and was passed by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee on Thursday. The bill must pass the full Assembly and be signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie before it becomes active.

The bill was sponsored by Assemblymen Dave Wolfe and Greg McGuckin (both R-Ocean) 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 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.
Spooner May 12, 2014 at 12:05 PM
This subject has been beaten too death on the patch: both when the accident happen and then when the trial was going on. Unfortunately both operators and their passengers had consumed alcohol which in my opinion was a contributing cause to the accident. DiGilio was going to fast with his bowel up. The Whaler's operator and passengers seemed to have been self absorbed and oblivious of the dangers in being on the water in a 19' low to the water skiff at 1:00AM in the morning. Low in the water, the operator probably didn't see DiGilio's running lights. The question still remains:why they didn't pay heed to the sound of DiGiio's boat approaching them, and either back off the throttle and/or maneuver to avoid collision based on reported testimony?
Brandy the Dog May 12, 2014 at 01:06 PM
Spooner, you make a very good case for not going to fast when your bowel is up. I wouldn't even be on the water if mine were. As to the proposed penalties, and if I'm not mistaken, third degree crimes do not neccasarily carry a presumption of incarceration, whereas a first or second degree crime would.
Rock.n.Roll May 12, 2014 at 08:13 PM
What do you guys think about the young teens at the throttle of 65-70 mph wave runners?
Brandy the Dog May 12, 2014 at 09:14 PM
There probably better suited than the old haggards.

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