Girl killed in Pinellas County boat crash; 16-year-old driver arrested

Pinellas County

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A 16-year-old boy was arrested Sunday after a boat crash in the Intracoastal Waterway ejected seven teenagers on board, killing a 16-year-old girl.

Because he is a juvenile, the driver arrested in the crash will not be named in this story. He is being charged with negligent homicide.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said the boy and six other teens, some who had been drinking, left a Halloween party in the Treasure Island area around 1 a.m. Gualtieri said the party was attended by about 30-40 kids on the first floor and adults on the floor above.

The sheriff said the seven teens left the party a little after midnight and made their way back to the 16-year-old boy’s house, who lives in Largo. As he was driving back, Gualtieri said the boy was speeding in a no wake zone. The boy crashed the boat into a channel marker, and all seven teens were ejected into the water.

Six of the teens made their way to land, but the seventh, 16-year-old Rachel Herring, could not be found. Her body was located later about a half a mile south by rescue crews who used an app to find her phone, which was still on her. Gualtieri said it appears Herring drowned after the crash.

Gualtieri said the boat, which belongs to the driver’s parents, continued into the sea wall after hitting the channel marker.

Despite there being weed and alcohol at the house party, Gualtieri said impairment doesn’t seem to have been a factor in the crash. He did say speeding and the boat’s poor lighting did play a role, however.

When asked whether charges would be filed regarding the house party, Gualtieri said they’re early in the investigation but “everything’s on the table.”


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April 24 2021 08:00 am

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