BLUE ISLAND, Ill. (STMW) — The family of a man killed in a 2010 boat accident on the Cal-Sag Channel near Calumet Township filed a wrongful death lawsuit Monday against the driver of both boats.
Bishr Swaiss was killed Aug. 24, 2010, when he fell off an 18-foot Ebbtide Dyna Trak 180 recreational watercraft owned by John G. Fernandez after it was struck by a 17-foot Starcraft Fishmaster watercraft owned and operated by William G. Lunt. The crash occurred about 12:20 a.m. in the Cal-Sag Channel east of the Ashland Avenue Bridge, according to a suit filed in Cook County Circuit Court.
Swaiss, 41, of 12700 S. Ashland Ave. in Calumet Park, was found at the bottom of the Cal-Sag Channel and pronounced dead at 3:51 a.m. June 20, 2010, at MetroSouth Medical Center in Blue Island, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.
An autopsy determined Swaiss died from drowning and his death was ruled an accident, according to the medical examiner’s office.
The Blue Island Fire Department Dive Team recovered his body during a search, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, which assisted with a shoreline search of the area.
One of the boats struck a log in the channel, which slowed it down before being struck by the second boat, according to an Illinois State Police master sergeant. Swaiss was not wearing a life jacket, the master sergeant said.
The suit claims William and Christine Lunt failed to keep a proper lookout, operated the watercraft too fast and followed too closely. It also claims Lunt failed to stop within the assured clear distance, didn’t yield the right of way and had inadequate lights and warning devices.
The Lunts could not be reached for comment.
The suit claims Fernandez instructed Swaiss to lean over the side of the boat with a flashlight to look for debris when it was not safe. It also claims he failed to signal to other boaters his vessel was drifting and didn’t have adequate flotation devices for passengers.
Fernandez could not be reached for comment.
The suit, filed by Baha Swaiss, is seeking more than a $150,000 plus the cost of the suit from both the Lunts and Fernandez.
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