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Ella Adler's family releases statement; new boating safety initiative planned

Biscayne Bay boating accident that killed 15-year-old girl opens up discussion on boat safety
Biscayne Bay boating accident that killed 15-year-old girl opens up discussion on boat safety 02:50

MIAMI - Ella Adler's family released a statement Thursday, as community leaders announced a new boating safety initiative that will be launched after the tragic death of the 15-year-old.

The statement, released through their attorney, read:

"The Adler family is grateful for the overwhelming love and support they have received from across the country. Ella had a big, beautiful spirit that touched so many people. Our hearts are broken as we long for the everyday joys of being with Ella - the carpooling, the dance practices, the background hum of Taylor Swift songs and the Starbucks refreshers. Our greatest comfort now is seeing the amplification of Ella's goodness and grace, and the flood of messages of how she was loved and will be remembered. We miss her terribly and our hearts remain with her today and always. We have complete confidence in our law enforcement personnel and we will not be commenting on the pending criminal investigation."

The boating safety initiative was applauded by Alex Alvarez, whose 18-year-old son Lucas was killed in another boating accident on February 16th, 2020 near Islamorada.

Alvarez told CBS News Miami's Peter D'Oench, "I would say that everyone has to step up to the plate for the pain that all these families are enduring and with their lifelong pain. Just pay attention and be responsible and if you are a parent of a young adult and your child has a watercraft, you have to be ready for the next step."

"Just hopefully before someone gets behind a wheel someone will have the sense of responsibility and obligation. Once you get in the bay all bets are off with everyone going all sorts of speeds."

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said that Ella, a Ransom Everglades student, was wakeboarding late last Saturday afternoon not far from the Nixon Beach sandbar off Key Biscayne when a boat driven by 78-year-old Carlos Alonso struck her and took off.

FWC seized his boat this week at his Coral Gables home.

His attorney Lauren Field Krasnoff said, "If he was the person that was involved in the accident, and I want to be clear that we don't know that yet, if he was, he had absolutely had no idea of his involvement."

On Thursday, at the Miami Marine Stadium, the South Florida Boat Show's boat safety initiative called "Beacon Light at Sea" was announced by Nelson Albareda, the CEO of the Loud and Live Foundation. It is aimed at raising awareness about safety.

He said, "We are going to meet with policymakers and community leaders and have meetings over the next few months to come together with a unified message. We are going to go to local high schools and educate students on boating safety. Through educational programs and community outreach, we will be actively engaging with boaters of all ages and that is aimed at elevating awareness and having the best practices that can save lives."

Albareda was joined by the Lucy Fernandez Foundation, the Monica Burquera Foundation and the LA6 Foundation (Lucas Alvarez Foundation).

Miami-Dade Commissioner Raquel Regalado said she wants tougher penalties for hit-and-run accidents and wants them to be designated as felonies.

She said, "We are looking at mirroring the changes that were made in the state statute for cars so that was recently changed so that if you hit someone and leave the scene we are asking out state partners to consider making that change and I am going to bring that before the Board of County Commissioner to see if they can do the same for boaters. So that just elevates the change because it's technically a manslaughter so we want to make that it is a felony."

She also had some other safety suggestions.

"Obviously, we want people to be responsible and what we want is for everyone in vessels to be aware of their surroundings and we want to educate everyone on how to share that amazing space. There aren't a lot of rules out there but people need to be conscious of where they are going and how fast they are going. We want to educate high school students and their parents," said Regalado.

"At the end of the day we want more people to be aware and realize that anyone can be at risk," she said. "Here we have a victim and this could happen to anyone's child."

FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto told D'Oench there were no new developments Thursday in the investigation and said FWC was waiting for test results from the boat to come back from the lab and said the boat owner was still cooperating.

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