Two People Are Killed in Urbanna Marina Fire

By John Cooper, Virginia Boating Accident Attorney

Boating accidents are less common than those on the highway but when they do occur they can be dramatic and lead to a major loss of life. Marinas, where combustible substances are often stored, are potentially dangerous places when things go wrong.

Clearly, something went badly wrong at the Dozier Yachting Center Marina in Urbanna, Virginia, where a fire damaged 50 boats according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Two people who lived on boats were killed.

Police said at a press conference that the two people who lost their lives appear to have lived in boats on the marina in Middlesex County. The fire broke out at 4:30 a.m. on Monday.

Major M.E. Sampson with Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office says the fire was called in at 4:30 a.m. The fire was said to be under control by the time press conferences were held later Monday morning.

As many as 50 boats were affected by the fire, and several state agencies and local fire departments responded to the marina — including crews from the York County and Newport News Fire Departments on the Virginia Peninsula. A Hazmat team from Newport News was called to the marina to assist in the investigation. Beth Justice, whose home is near the marina, told a local TV station she called 911 when she saw the flames from her home that overlooks the water. She heard gas tanks explode as the flames spread.

There are a lot of outstanding questions about how this big fire started and whether hazardous materials were properly stored.

More people lose their lives on marinas than we may think and often someone is to blame for sloppy safety procedures.

Recently, North Carolina Lawyers Weekly reported on how the state’s appellate court upheld the award of $1.5 million in a wrongful death case made by a jury in Lincoln County.  No two cases are the same, and we cannot guarantee the result of another case, but a jury ruled a 19-year-old dock worker lost his life when the boat he was fuelling exploded due to improper nozzles installed by a petroleum equipment and servicing company that caused an oil spill.

The 19-year-old was working at Hobbs Westpoint Marina in Denver in North Carolina when an 80-foot long charter boat pulled into the dock to refuel.  The dock worker pulled out a hose for refueling. About six minutes later, a vapor cloud was rose up in “real close proximity” to the fuelling area. David Bland, the attorney for the 19-year-old, said the vapor cloud was ignited by a running generator, causing two explosions.

My thoughts are with the families of those who died in the marina blaze at Urbanna. If you have lost a loved one due to the fault of someone else in a marina accident or another type of boating accident, call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyer at (757) 455-0077. See our resources for boating accidents and injuries in Virginia.

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