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Missing Florida boaters declared dead

A father and son who went missing after a fishing expedition in the Gulf of Mexico nearly two years ago were declared dead last week by a Florida judge. Now, the mother of the boy says she will pursue a wrongful death and negligence lawsuit against the estates of her ex-husband and the driver of the boat.

Karen Eddleman’s lawsuit alleges that the skipper, 61-year-old Gary Lisk, and the boy’s father, Neil Wayne Eddleman, 46, were negligent by operating What’s Left, a 24-foot Hydra-Sports, in inclement weather, a news report says. The suit says the men failed to properly protect the boy, 13-year-old Neil Alan Eddleman.

On Oct. 17, 2003, the three set off from Gordon Pass, near Naples, Fla., on an overnight fishing trip about 60 miles southwest of Marco Island. Seventeen days later, the boat was found washed ashore and capsized on a stretch of restricted beach at Cape Canaveral, nearly 500 miles around Florida from Gordon Pass.

The body of the skipper, Lisk, body was found with the boat, but his cause of death was listed as undetermined, the report says. The Coast Guard and various private parties launched extensive searches for the father and teenager, but were unable to locate them. Questions about the nature of the accident fueled suspicions of piracy and murder, or arrest and imprisonment in Cuban jails for trespassing into that country’s waters.

St. Petersburg, Fla., attorney Michael K. Kiernan filed a motion to dismiss the suit, arguing that it fails to show negligence on the part of Lisk in causing injury to Neil Alan Eddleman, the report says. He also argued that since the boy’s body hasn’t been found, he can’t be presumed dead.

Jason Fell