On early Sunday morning, Rachel Herring, 16, was killed in a boat crash in Indian Shores, Florida. Now, the 16-year-old operator, who was driving his parents’ boat, is facing vessel homicide charges.
The teenage operator and six other passengers took the boat to a party near Treasure Island on Saturday night, bringing alcohol with them. They arrived at the party around 9 p.m., where 25 to 40 teenagers consumed alcohol and marijuana. Upstairs was another party attended by adults.
The teenagers left the party just after midnight, heading north on the Intracoastal Waterway. While travelling at a high speed through a no-wake zone, they collided with a metal channel marker, and all seven passengers, none of whom were wearing lifejackets, were thrown into the water. The boat continued traveling at a high speed before colliding with a seawall.
The passengers noticed that Herring was missing after the crash, and they located her half a mile south of the collision site, floating in the water. She was pronounced dead on the scene. Her exact cause of death is still being determined. One other passenger suffered minor injuries and was taken to the Bayfront Medical Center. The remaining five passengers were uninjured.
The boat’s operator did not show signs of impairment when given a field sobriety test, but he is still facing criminal charges. He was taken to the Pinellas Juvenile Assessment Center.