Deputy Marine Drowns During Training Exercise Due to Allegedly Lax Safety Protocols


Admiralty ExpertThis case involves a female deputy who died in a boating accident during a training exercise in Michigan. The deputy frequently performed road and marine patrol. She was training on a lake with other deputies when she was ejected from a boat. Her life jacket became entangled in the boat propeller and she went underwater for several minutes. The deputy was rescued and resuscitation was attempted but failed.  An expert in marine training was sought to opine on deputy marine training standards and protocols to ensure passengers are safe during training exercises.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Please describe your marine patrol training experience.
  • 2. What protocols should be in place to ensure passengers are safe during marine training exercises for law enforcement?
  • 3. What could have been done to prevent this incident from happening?

Expert Witness Response E-008043

Expert-ID: E-008043

I have 44+ years of experience on boats of all sizes and types from dinghies to navigating the largest passenger ships afloat. I served in the U.S. Naval Reserve for 21 years and did boat patrols when on ACDUTRA (active duty for training). In addition, I was a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and did patrols with the auxiliary. Prior to becoming a harbor pilot, I was captain on a Navy combat stores ship and also a training ship whose mission was to train future officers of the United States Merchant Marine which included small boat training. Without more knowledge about the case, I cannot comment other than stating there is no excuse for this type of accident. I would need more details such as if the vessel was a RIB boat, twin screw outboard, etc. I have served as an expert on boating cases in which passengers were ejected from boats at high speed or while doing unusual maneuvers.

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