1 teen killed, 6 ejected when boat hits Florida channel marker

16-year-old pilot had been drinking but did not appear impaired, sheriff says

INDIAN SHORES, Fla. – One teenager was killed and six others were ejected from a speeding boat that crashed into a channel marker in the Intracoastal Waterway while returning from a Halloween Party on Florida’s Gulf Coast early Sunday, sheriff’s officials said.

The 16-year-old driver of the boat has been arrested on a charge of negligent homicide, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said during a news conference later Sunday. The driver showed no signs of impairment after the crash, he added.

Rachel Herring, 16, died in the crash, she sheriff said.

The group of teens, ages 16 and 17, left for the party on Saturday evening from the home of the boat’s driver. They picked up another teen along the way. That teen brought alcohol on board, the sheriff said.

The party was attended by 20 to 40 teens downstairs at the home, while adults had a party upstairs, the sheriff said. Some of the teens had alcohol and marijuana at the party.

They headed to the party near the Treasure Island Causeway and started home after midnight, he said. They dropped off one teen before the crash happened.

The boat hit the channel marker and everyone was ejected. It then hit a sea wall, the sheriff said. None of the teens wore life jackets.

Gualtieri said Herring apparently drowned, and her body was located through an app she had on her phone. She was found about a half-mile south of the crash scene.

Another teen was taken to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries. None of the other teens were treated for injuries, he said.

The sheriff said the family had recently acquired the boat, which had not yet been registered with the state. He said detectives obtained a search warrant for the boat and hope to recover electronic data about the crash.

Gaultieri said speeding, and the boat’s poor lighting are factors in the crash.

Herring’s mother was out-of-state on Sunday and was flying home with help from the sheriff’s office, Gualtieri said. He said the teen’s father spoke Sunday to a victim’s advocate from the sheriff’s office.

“This is very tragic,” he said. “You’ve got a 16-year-old girl that’s deceased, and it doesn’t get any worse than that.”