Family of deceased 20-year-old sues boat company due to negligence

Credit: USCGSOUTHEAST/X via People

In a grave incident, Enoch Tong, a 20-year-old, jumped into the ocean from his yacht and drowned. His parents, on behalf of the victim, are now suing a yachting company, as well as other companies and individuals, for negligence after their loved one jumped off a yacht and drowned in the waters of Florida’s Biscayne Bay in March, as per People.

According to information acquired by People through the lawsuit filed by the parents of the deceased, Tong and 12 other passengers were aboard the yacht Victoria on March 18, 2023, for a chartered cruise around Biscayne Bay. The lawsuit continues in its statement that Tong jumped off the yacht when it was docked on the bay area “when he was caught in a rip tide and began to struggle to remain afloat,” according to the complaint, which also alleged that “as a direct and proximate result,” Tong “drowned and sustained severe injuries resulting in his death on March 19, 2023.” The same lawsuit stated that his body washed up the next day after the incident, per People’s reports.

Attorney Pedro Echarte, during a press conference on Wednesday, shared by local news outlet WPLG, said, “On March 18, 2023, Enoch Tong and his friends chartered a vessel from Impulsive Life LLC and its owner Darien Fresco, who are named defendants in this lawsuit.” Echarte continued in his statement that after several hours of cruising, the boat was secured to the dock. He stated the condition of the sea at the time where he alleged that there were strong currents going on when Tong jumped into the waters, but “neither the captain nor the mate aboard that vessel warned Enoch or any of the passengers of the swimming hazard that existed.”

Following this, in his statement acquired via People, Echarte stated that Tong struggled to keep afloat in the water as the currents jerked him around. Mattie Bess, Tong’s mother, also laid a statement where she spoke about the last time she saw her son before the incident, “Today I stand before you,” she said, “with a heart burdened by grief as a mother who has tragically lost her beloved son during a devasting incident,” adding, “I want to ensure that no other parent has to endure the pain and heartache my family is currently going through and will go through for the rest of our lives.”

The lawsuit accommodates claims of negligence charges against Impulsive Life LLC, Starward Yachts Inc, Jones Boat Yard Inc, multiple “acts and omissions” including: “failing to reasonably and properly train, instruct or supervise its employees, agents, contractors, masters, officers, crew members, or seamen”; “allowing unqualified and untrained employees, agents, contractors, masters, officers, crew members, or seamen to operate the Victoria”; “failing to properly equip or use the available safety and lifesaving equipment aboard the Victoria”; “failing to implement reasonable and proper safety policies and procedures for its passengers (or failing to instruct its crew of the same)”; and “failing to warn its passengers of the risks of jumping in the water, especially during poor or deteriorating weather conditions.” (via People)

Through the lawsuit, People states that the family is seeking reparations and damages in excess of $50,000, “exclusive of interest, costs, and attorney’s fees.”According to the suit, the plaintiff “demands a trial by jury of all issues triable as of right by a jury.” People gathered reports in relation to the case whereby Miami Fire Rescue Lt. Pete Sanchez, in a news conference in March, said, “We do know that his friends did throw life preservers they tried to help him but unfortunately, the current was just too strong.” (via NBC affiliate WTVJ) WSVN alleged in a statement acquired by People that an investigation had been launched in March itself, and no one had been charged.