Miami Man Pleads Guilty to Involuntary Manslaughter in Fatal Boat Crash in the Bahamas
MIAMI – A Miami man has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the tragic death of a young couple in a boat accident near Bimini, Bahamas, last year, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Josbel Fernández Echevarría, 37 years old, was operating a 32-foot motor boat with his girlfriend, Violet Khouri, on July 2, 2020, off the coast of Bimini. Also on board were Javier M. Pérez, 29, and Carolyn Alvarez, 26, who were in a committed relationship.
At approximately 10:29 p.m., the boat collided with North Turtle Rock, a well-known high tide elevation indicated on all navigation charts as well as the boat’s navigation system. The boat was travelling at a speed of 43.4 miles per hour (almost 70 km/h) when the accident occurred.
While Fernández and his girlfriend sustained injuries, Pérez and Álvarez tragically lost their lives in the incident. Pérez’s body was recovered from North Turtle Rock, but Alvarez’s body remains missing despite extensive search efforts by authorities.
The Department of Justice stated that the deaths of Pérez and Álvarez were a result of Fernández’s failure to maintain adequate vigilance and travel at a safe speed, thereby violating Parts 5 and 6 of the International Rules of Direction and Navigation.
Fernández now faces a maximum sentence of eight years in prison for each count of involuntary manslaughter, in addition to criminal fines of up to $250,000 per count and a period of supervised release of up to three years. The sentencing is scheduled for January 2024.
Carolyn Alvarez’s mother, Liz Alvarez, expressed relief over the guilty plea, stating, “His entire life was shattered by one bad decision by Josbel. We were finally able to get the justice we deserved because my daughter Connie and her boyfriend Javier did not deserve this.”
Liz Alvarez also revealed that the responsible party had never extended an apology for the tragic incident. “Never ever, never ever, not even on the phone when the accident occurred, not even when we saw him in person in court,” she lamented.
The case exposes the devastating consequences that result from reckless actions on the water. It is a stark reminder of the importance of maintaining vigilance and adhering to safety protocols while enjoying recreational activities on the sea.
The DOJ’s prosecution and the guilty plea serve as a message that the authorities will hold individuals accountable for their negligence, providing some comfort to the grieving families who have suffered an unimaginable loss.
As the sentencing date approaches, the families and friends of Pérez and Álvarez hope for closure and that justice will be served in honor of their loved ones’ memories.