Intoxicated Utah Boat Driver Arrested for Automobile Homicide

An intoxicated Utah boat driver was arrested for automobile homicide for allegedly causing the death of one of his passengers while boating in Flaming Gorge over Mother’s Day weekend.

Drinking and sailing

Photo by: Ozzy Delaney

25 year old Corey Eggleston of Vernal, Utah was arrested for automobile homicide and DUI charges after one of his passengers fell from the boat and drowned. Eggleston admitted had been drinking alcohol while operating the boat at Flaming Gorge Reservoir Saturday when he made a maneuver that caused the boat to start taking on water. That maneuver resulted in multiple passengers of Eggleston’s boat to fall into the water. None of the passengers were wearing life vests and one male passenger was pronounced dead after being pulled from the water.

Automobile homicide

Eggleston was booked into Uintah County Jail on DUI charges as well as automobile homicide. Utah Code 76-5-207 states: “Criminal homicide is automobile homicide, a third degree felony, if the person operates a motor vehicle in a negligent manner causing the death of another and:
(i) has sufficient alcohol in his body . . . of .05 grams or greater at the time of the test;
(ii) is under the influence of alcohol, any drug, or the combined influence of alcohol and any drug to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely operating a vehicle [or boat]; or
(iii) has a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .05 grams or greater at the time of operation.”
If the person was found to behaving in a criminally negligent manner when they caused the death of another, the charges would be increased to a second degree felony.

Negligence when boating

Section 76-5-207 goes on to explains that “. . . negligent means simple negligence, the failure to exercise that degree of care that reasonable and prudent persons exercise under like or similar circumstances.”Criminal negligence on the other hand is defined by 76-2-103 as “. . . when [the actor] ought to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur. The risk must be of a nature and degree that the failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise in all the circumstances as viewed from the actor’s standpoint.”

Mistake or “gross deviation” of care

Although Eggleston likely didn’t intent to cause the death of his passenger, drinking while operating the boat was considered a negligent act and could have been prevented by choosing sobriety while boating instead. No details have been released stating how much Eggleston had been drinking or whether or not, prior to the incident, he was behaving in a manner that would show a disregard for the safety of others (other than his consuming alcohol.) Anyone facing charges for negligently causing the death or another is encouraged to seek the help of a qualified attorney to ensure intent and level of negligence is honestly portrayed during court proceedings.

Utah Boating Laws

Before Utah residents flock to reservoirs and lakes to cool off from the scorching summer temperatures, they should be informed of current boating laws in order to avoid tickets or criminal charges.

Oasis in the desert

Photo by: Esther Lee

Utah is unique in the way it handles its lakes and reservoirs. Instead of divvying up the beachfront property and selling it to the highest bidders as other states do, the State of Utah has instead created several public parks for all Utah residents and guest to enjoy. Most, if not all of these bodies of water have boat access points which allow visitors to experience the water away from the beach. According to a boating map by The Utah Department of Natural Resources, there are 32 different areas on lakes and reservoirs in Utah where watercraft is permitted.

Boating laws in Utah

While operating water on Utah waters is open to the public with a small entrance fee, the Department of Natural Resources reminds residents that there are boating laws and regulations that must be followed to ensure all lake-goers are legal, educated, and safe. Some of the basics are:

Photo by: Ozzy Delaney

• Registration and education. All watercraft with a motor or sail must have current registration on board the vessel when in use with the decals located on the front half of the boat on either the port or starboard side. Those operating boats should attend education courses although the classes are required only for PWC operators 12-17 years of age.

• Lifejackets. Everyone is encouraged to use a lifejacket when on a boat, but for those 12 and under, coast guard approved life jackets are mandatory. Lifejackets are also required for anyone using jet skis, or being pulled by a boat on skis, wakeboards, or floatable devices.

• Equipment. Depending on the boat size, there are required equipment items that should be on board including: fire extinguishers, throwable floatation device, lights, registration and insurance, as well as other items that can be viewed at stateparks.utah.gov.

• Drunk boating. Driving drunk is against the law whether or not the person is driving a car or a boat. While alcohol is allowed on board unlike in a vehicle, the person operating the boat should refrain from alcohol consumption to avoid criminal charges.

• Passengers in the boat. Anyone in the boat should be sitting down inside the boat when the boat is creating wake and not on the bow decking or other areas where they could fall out or obstruct the view of the driver.

Photo by: Philms

• Individuals being pulled by the boat on water skis, etc are only permitted during daylight hours and must be observed by an individual other than the driver who is eight years and older. That observer must have 1 square foot orange flag ready to display when the person being towed is no longer in motion.

• Speed limits. A boat must be idle if in a non-wake area or if within 150 feet of “another boat, a person in the water, a water skier, shore angler, launch ramp, dock, or other designated swimming areas.”

• Stay at the scene. In the case of an accident, boaters should treat it just as they would a road vehicle accident. Exchange information, help the other boaters and passengers, and call law enforcement if the accident is serious enough to produce injury, death, or property damage above a $2000 value.

• Department of Natural Resources also instructs boaters to watch the weather and be aware of passengers near the back of the boat who may be at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning or propeller injury.

Counsel for boating crimes

Criminal charges accrued while boating are no different than those on land. BUI (boating under the influence), boating without registration or insurance, reckless endangerment, or automobile homicide are all serious charges that those operating boats could face. It is imperative to seek legal counsel should any charges occur while boating. For a full list of all boating laws and regulations, visit the Utah State Parks Division online.