PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A 16-year-old Florida boy was arrested Sunday after a boat crash in the Intracoastal Waterway ejected seven teenagers on board, killing a 16-year-old girl.
The driver arrested in the crash is not named because he is a juvenile. He is being charged with negligent homicide.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said the boy and six other teens, some who had been drinking, left a Halloween party in the Treasure Island area around 1 a.m. Gualtieri said the party was attended by about 30-40 youths on the first floor with adults on the floor above.
The sheriff said the seven teens left the party a little after midnight and went back to the 16-year-old boy’s house, who lives in Largo, Florida. As he was driving back, Gualtieri said, the boy was speeding in a no-wake zone. The boy crashed the boat into a channel marker, and all seven teens were ejected into the water, he said.
Six of the teens made it to land, but a seventh,16-year-old Rachel Herring, could not be found. Her body was later located about a half-mile away by rescue crews who used an app to find her phone, which was still with her. Gualtieri said it appears Herring drowned after the crash.
Gualtieri said the boat, which belongs to the driver’s parents, continued into the sea wall after hitting the channel marker.
Despite there being marijuana and alcohol at the party, Gualtieri said impairment doesn’t appear to have been a factor in the crash. He said, however, that speeding and the boat’s poor lighting played a role.
Regarding possible charges over the house party, Gualtieri said they’re early in the investigation, but “everything’s on the table.”