Boating Accident Victim Speaks After Losing Leg

After a boating accident that claimed his leg in February, Sal Pucciarelli has broken his silence and has described the horrifying experience from his perspective. On February 26, he was swimming in the Gulf off Naples’ Venderbilt Beach when a boat’s propeller severed his leg below the knee. Despite expressing disbelief that this horror could possibly happen to him, Pucciarelli stressed that he has not lost his zeal for life and that he focuses every day on recovering from his tragic injury.

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According to Wink News Now, Pucciarelli stated that “I remember looking down and seeing my leg off and I said oh I’m gone,” and that “I thought I was going to die. I said I’m dead. This is my last day on this earth.” Though he apparently struggles daily to accept this sad fate, the swimmer stressed that he would continue in his fight to return to his normal life, saying “This is what I was dealt. I’m going to, just going to get better,” according to the article.  

The boat’s driver, charter boat captain Brandon Ruganis, 34, has been charged with reckless operation resulting in a boating accident and violation of a navigation rule. Reckless operation of a boat is defined as “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of person or property at a speed or in a manner as to endanger, or likely to endanger life or limb,” and the navigation rule allegedly broken was failure to maintain a safe speed. The boating citations followed a lawsuit that was filed on behalf of Pucciarelli by Morgan & Morgan on June 24. The lawsuit names Ruganis and Ruganis’s company, Safiri Sailing Cruises Inc. as defendants.

In 2010, the United States Coast Guard reported 4604 accidents that involved 672 deaths, 3153 injuries and approximately $35.5 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents. For the four years from 2006 to 2010, Florida has consistently ranked number one for boating accident fatalities, with over fifty-five every year and sixty-nine in 2010. Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed, and alcohol use rank as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.

Boats are inherently dangerous vehicles, and thus present a significant risk to the driver, passengers, and bystanders. If you or a loved one is involved in a boating or recreation accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.

Contact one of Morgan & Morgan’s experienced [boating accident attorneys for a free case review to see if you are eligible to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit to recover damages.

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