Coast Guard issues fine for jumping from passenger vessel

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Coast Guard issued a $5,000 fine, Tuesday, to a passenger who jumped overboard into the Willamette River from a tour boat, August 13.

The act of intentionally jumping into the water from a passenger vessel is considered interfering with the safe operation of the vessel and is a violation of federal law.

Accounts of the event indicate the passenger removed his shoes and proceeded to swan dive over the railing of the vessel into the Willamette River near the South Waterfront. The vessel captain quickly engaged the outboard engine and turned the vessel around. The crew threw a ring buoy to the man overboard and then, with the help of a fellow passenger, safely recovered the passenger who was not injured.

“Jumping into the water from a certificated passenger vessel, such as a tour boat or charter vessel, is not only dangerous for the person jumping but it also endangers the lives of others onboard,” Capt. Thomas Griffitts, commanding officer, Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Portland. “Commercial passenger vessel crews are responsible for the safety of all 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.”

The risk to jumpers include drowning, getting sucked into a vessel’s propellers and being struck by other vessels that may not see them in the water.

All Coast Guard certificated small passenger vessels undergo thorough safety inspections that include testing the crew’s competence to recover a man overboard. In this case, the crew performed their man overboard emergency recovery in accordance with their procedures.

Depending on the circumstances of the violation, the penalty for breaking this law is a fine of up to $33,333.

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