Coast Guard fines boat passenger for rail jumping

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Coast Guard issued a $5,000 fine, November 14, to a passenger who jumped overboard off a small entertainment vessel into the Columbia River near Columbia Point Marina, in Richland, Washington, June 16, 2018.

The fine is the Coast Guard response to action taken from an investigative report provided by the Benton County Sheriff’s Department who responded to the scene after being contacted by the master of the vessel Chrysalis, a Coast Guard inspected passenger vessel.

While the Chrysalis was approaching the Columbia Point Marina, June 16, the man climbed over the rail and jumped off the vessel disregarding the master’s instructions. Prior to jumping the vessel’s rail, the man approached the captain requesting to jump off the vessel but was denied permission. After jumping overboard, the man swam to shore safely.

The act of intentionally jumping into the water from a passenger vessel is considered interfering with the safe operation of the vessel, 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 $33,333.

“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,” said Capt. Tom Griffitts, commanding officer of 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 try and retrieve the jumper from 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 perfectly in line with their procedures.

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