The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation has ruled out alcohol as a factor in a boating accident that killed 17-year-old Luciana Fernandez over Labor Day Weekend last year off the coast of Miami.
The FWC report found that George Pino, a 52-year-old real-estate broker, was operating the boat with his wife and 12 minors present at the time of the crash, which killed Luciana and seriously injured 17-year-old Katerina Puig and 16-year-old Isabella Rodriguez.
“It is insulting to our family, who has had no choice but to accept the consequences of the accident, to now also be forced to accept the numerous inconsistencies refuted by the FWC report,” Andres and Melissa Fernandez, Luciana’s parents, said in a statement to Fox News Digital.
They added that the decision to rule out alcohol as a factor in the crash despite finding 61 empty alcohol bottles and cans, one empty champagne bottle and a half-full liquor bottle onboard is “disturbing.”
“[T]he premature and subjective dismissal of possible impairment, when the report details the presence of numerous empty alcohol containers, is disturbing; the only real way to conclusively rule out alcohol as a factor would have been to test for such on that day,” Andres and Melissa Fernandez said.
The FWC report states that “no one admitted to the consumption of alcohol,” but a juvenile witness described seeing Pino consume one drink.
Pino, who took the boat out at the south end of Cutter Bank to celebrate his daughter’s birthday, declined a blood-alcohol level test immediately after the crash and told officials he wanted an attorney present, according to the FWC report and a civil lawsuit.
The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office has since charged Pino with three misdemeanors, including one count of careless operation of a vessel causing death and two counts of careless operation of a vessel causing serious bodily injury.
“The fact that self-preservation seems to be more important than helping provide answers and closure to our family is overwhelmingly offensive; we’ve had to bury our 17-year-old daughter and another teenager lost life as she knew it,” the Fernandez family continued. “Minimizing the accident, the irresponsible actions causing it, and the gravity of our reality, to the likes of a mere traffic citation, only adds insult to injury.”
In a 35-page civil lawsuit, Puig’s family alleges that the alcohol Pino consumed that evening in 2022 “caused and/or contributed to cause” the victims’ injuries. The complaint also alleges that Pino declined a BAC test to “conceal the fact that he had consumed alcohol.”
Pino’s attorney did not immediately respond to an inquiry from Fox News Digital.
The real estate broker’s boat, a 29-feet Robalo “equipped with twin 300 horsepower engines, was carrying several adults and a group of Miami area students back to the dock when it collided with a visible channel marker, tearing a large hole in the side of the vessel, and forcefully throwing many of the boat passengers into the water,” the State Attorney’s office said in a press release.
Pino was driving the boat between 45 and 47 mph when it struck the channel marker.
The boat capsized following the crash, and Good Samaritans, along with multiple responding agencies, recovered victims from the water.
FWC’s investigation into the incident found that Pino was not impaired by drugs or alcohol while operating the boat due to the boat’s driving pattern, which limits “the criminal charges applicable to the circumstances of this incident,” the State Attorney’s office said.
Maj. Alberto Maza, FWC South Region Bravo Regional Commander, said in an Aug. 14 statement that the accident “hit the Miami community at its core.”
“So many lives were forever changed in an instant. Our hearts still break for the victims of this tragedy,” he said. “Our investigators have completed a comprehensive investigation into the accident, and hope that the answers provided in the report can provide some small measure of peace.”
Fernandez’s family has since started the Lucy Fernandez Foundation, a nonprofit educating the public on boater safety. The organization will also “provide scholarship and experiential learning opportunities for students at Our Lady of Lourdes Academy, her beloved school.”