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Drug Residue Found Aboard in Fatal Boating Accident

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A new report about a fatal boat accident in south Florida has revealed that drugs and alcohol were on board the vessel allegedly steered by South Florida radio personality Lazaro Mendez, also known as DJ Laz.

In May of 2014, 23-year-old Ernesto Hernandez was killed by the 40-foot boat’s spinning propellers on Nixon Island. Authorities reported Hernandez was attempting to push the boat after it became stuck on a sandbar. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission stated that Hernandez was impaired, with a blood alcohol level well above the legal limit, when he was attempting to push the boat out of the Nixon Beach sand with several others. Mendez was said to be at the helm of the boat at the time when Hernandez was struck.

According to a report released by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, cocaine residue was found on ripped bills and multiple liquor bottles that were on board the boat. Audio was released of the questioning of Mendez by Florida officials.

“Criminal investigation regarding boating accident and fatality, which occurred at Nixon Beach, and we’ll be taking a statement from Lazaro Mendez.”

Mendez complied and barely spoke to investigators. “With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to us now?”

“No,” replied Mendez.

“You’ll wait for your attorney?” asked an investigator.

“Yes, sir.”

Mendez was cited for careless driving resulting in a death. Earlier this year, Maricel Valdez, Hernandez’s mother, spoke out. “What I need is my son, and I don’t have him anymore. Because I’m already 48 years old, I can’t be having no baby anymore,” she said as she tried to hold back tears.

No criminal charges are being filed against Mendez or anyone else because, there is “no way to prove drug residue belonged to him” and “no way of proving who was in possession of the bills.”

The family is filing a lawsuit against Mendez, and according to Silva, Mendez should have, at the very least, been tested for being impaired at the scene, which he was not.

There is little more terrifying than a pleasant day on the water suddenly turning into a tragic or fatal accident. You may have followed all boating safety precautions and regulations. Unfortunately, there are many who don’t, with boat accidents as the disastrous outcome. Our waterways in West Palm Beach are populated by both locals and tourists, who may be inexperienced, or operate a watercraft in a negligent manner, whether drunk, speeding, or in failing to exercise reasonable care for the safety of others.

Many tourists who visit the West Palm Beach area take to the waterways for recreation, but often are unfamiliar with the safe operation of a watercraft, or are consuming alcohol prior to or while operating the boat or jet ski. This is extremely dangerous, as reduced ability to react, bad decisions, and dangerous behavior is not uncommon while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. Innocent swimmers or other boaters are at high risk of injury or death when a negligent boat operator is in the area. The outcome is devastating to families, with a loved one who has drowned or suffered severe or permanent injuries. When a passenger is thrown into the water, or hit by another watercraft, the danger of death or permanent brain damage is very high. We urge you to contact a West Palm Beach personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Casey D. Shomo, P.A. at once if you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a boat accident in Florida.



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