In a tragic bit of irony, a real estate mogul dies when his vessel slams into another he once owned
Florida marine investigators are trying to determine why two high-performance boats collided on Miami's Biscayne Bay recently, killing a real estate tycoon and a world explorer who completed two circumnavigations.
Steven Posner's 44-foot MTI (Marine Technology Inc.) collided Nov. 29 with 27-year-old Friedrich Eigelshoven's 46-foot Skater, according to officer Jorge Pino of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The accident killed Posner, 67, and his friend and passenger on the MTI, Clive Warwick, 60. Posner's cousin, Stuart Posner, who was operating the MTI, was critically injured, says Pino.
Eigelshoven, who was at the helm of the Skater, Mixed Emotions, suffered minor injuries. His only crewmember, Mark McLennan, 53, was uninjured. Both Posner and Warwick died of blunt force trauma to the head, according to Pino.
"It was a horrific accident," says Pino, adding that Warwick was catapulted from the MTI. "It's sad to see two people lose their lives. We don't know why they collided. That's what the investigator is looking into - speed, direction, the actual cause of this accident."
Pino did say both boats were "traveling at a high rate of speed" when Posner's boat struck the starboard side of the Skater, caving in a portion of the hull. Neither alcohol nor drug use were factors in the crash, says Pino. The crash occurred in the early afternoon about two miles east of Matheson Hammock Marina. There are no speed limits in the area, says Pino.
The FWC was still investigating the accident in mid-January. "The investigators are still diligently looking into the accident to see exactly what occurred," says Pino. "That takes quite awhile. Obviously we need to get subpoenas and so forth to gain access to some of the information we need to see. Keep in mind, an accident that happens on the waterways is unlike an accident that happens on the streets." Pino declined to say how long the probe may take.
Larry Goldman, owner of the Miami performance boat dealership Xtreme Marine, sold Posner and Eigelshoven their boats and was friends with both men. The Posners and Eigelshoven met and became friends through Goldman. Xtreme Marine also serviced and maintained both boats, says Goldman. "He was an eccentric and a boat nut," Goldman says of Posner.
Posner is referred to as a "corporate raider" who worked with his father, Victor Posner, on several major hostile takeovers, but the father and son had a falling out that led to a number of lawsuits, according to published reports. The elder Posner died in 2002 and his son took over the family business.
Warwick got to know the Posners from his involvement in South Florida's close-knit boating community, Warwick's son, Lee, told The Miami Herald. "My dad loved to be on the water, and in the boating community people just meet and get to know one another through that common interest," Lee says. "That's how he met Steven Posner and spent time with him, sometimes on his boat."
Warwick scaled Mount Everest in October 2009 and completed at least two circumnavigations, his son says.
On the day of the accident, Posner and Eigelshoven met by coincidence on the water and decided to go for an impromptu boat ride together on Biscayne Bay, says Goldman, who planned to meet them afterward and haul their boats. Goldman received a cell phone call from Eigelshoven shortly after 1 p.m.
"He said, 'There's been a terrible accident,' " says Goldman. "His immediate reaction to me was, 'We weren't racing. We weren't even going real fast.' "
The two boats were coming out of a turn to go north when the collision occurred, says Goldman. "The last thing [Eigelshoven] remembered was looking over to see where they were," he says. "He saw them coming, and he thought everything was fine and the next thing you know the [MTI] turned into him."
Eigelshoven remembers that his boat was traveling at about 70 to 80 mph, says Goldman. "They weren't going at a high speed - what they would consider high speed," says Goldman. "They weren't running 130, 140, 150 [mph], thank God. Otherwise there would be nothing left."
Both vessels are catamarans. A pair of 1,200-hp supercharged Cobra engines with BPM drives power the 1999 MTI. Top speed is 165 mph, says Goldman. The Skater also was built in the late 1990s and it packed more power - twin 1,300-hp Cobras with MerCruiser Number 6 drives. The Skater was capable of more than 180 mph, says Goldman. "The speed obviously contributed to the end result, but it wasn't the cause of the accident," says Goldman. "And it was not mechanical. Something happened - an error or a misjudgment."
Posner actually had once owned the Skater, buying it from Goldman in 2005. He then traded it to Xtreme Marine, and Goldman sold the boat to Eigelshoven in early 2010, he says.
Posner was enamored with speed and he loved boating, says Goldman. "He loved it enough to stroke a million-dollar check ... just before the accident to buy another turbine boat because it was a good deal," says Goldman, referring to Posner's purchase of a 50-foot Statement with turbine propulsion.
Posner's MTI is set up for high-speed pleasure, says Goldman, with four bucket seats in the stern and bucket seats for the driver and companion. The boat has no racing equipment such as seat belts, harnesses or a hard canopy, says Goldman. The Skater is fully enclosed with a canopy. It has a full air system, five-point harnesses and escape hatches.
"The Skater was built to be a racing boat but was used as a pleasure boat all of its life - until six months ago," says Goldman. Eigelshoven began racing the boat in June and competed in November in the Super Boat International world championship in Key West.
This article originally appeared in Home Waters Sections of the March 2011 issue.