James Allen, 78, of Ohio, was found guilty of Vessel Homicide and Vessel Registration Violation/Violation of County Ordinance for being within 500 feet of a beach not in idle
speed. The jury returned the guilty verdict Thursday evening, following a four-day trial in Collier County.
On March 5, 2020, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) was dispatched to the scene of an accident involving a boat and a swimmer in Wiggins Pass in Bonita Springs. The boat was no longer on scene. Witnesses said a man on the boat had thrown a flotation device to the victim and then left.
Deputies with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office located the vessel at the Cocohatchee boat ramp in Naples, about 20 minutes later. The defendant was operating the boat. Witnesses had also provided law enforcement with a picture of the scene, just after the incident, and the defendant can be seen on the boat at the time of the crash.
The victim died from his injuries a short time after the crash. Surveillance camera video and GPS data showed that the boat hit the swimmer within 325 feet of the beach. In an interview with FWC the defendant admitted he was going at a speed of 20 mph, not idling, and was probably looking to shore.
Assistant State Attorney Mara Marzano, of the State Attorney’s Office Homicide Unit, prosecuted the case. Sentencing is scheduled for March 14, 2023.
Samantha Syoen – State Attorney’s Office, Communications Director