Coast Guard issues $5,000 fine for rail jumping

Lady Justice 300SAN FRANCISCO — The Coast Guard issued a $5,000 fine to a passenger who jumped overboard into San Francisco Bay from a tour boat May 7.

The passenger allegedly jumped off the vessel after becoming distraught over an argument with her boyfriend. The vessel’s crew safely recovered the jumper, who was not injured.

This is the second “rail jumping” incident in the Bay Area within a 12-month period.  Jumping into the water from a passenger vessel, such as a tour boat or ferry, is not only dangerous for the person jumping, it endangers the lives of others as well. Commercial passenger vessel crews are responsible for the safety of all of the passengers aboard their vessels, and in this case, their attention was diverted away from the safe operation of the vessel when they were forced to retrieve the jumper from the water. Jumpers are at risk because they could get sucked into the vessel’s propellers or drown from the effects of cold water shock, swimming failure and hypothermia.

The act of jumping into the water from a passenger vessel is considered interfering with the safe operation of the vessel, which is a violation of 46 United States Code, Section 2302.  Depending on the circumstances of the violation, the penalty for breaking this law is a fine of up to $30,000.

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