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Several hurt, 2 dead in Va. boat accidents

Police are asking prosecutors whether charges should be filed after a woman was killed when a boat piloted by her 7-year-old son hit a pier, according to a report in the Daily Press.

Elizabeth Elliott, 35, her son and three other people were aboard the 20-foot vessel Sunday afternoon when someone let the boy take the wheel, John Bull, a Virginia Marine Resources Commission spokesman, told the newspaper. He made a sudden turn, plowing into a pier, authorities said.

"We are trying to find out what chain of events, what mental process, resulted in the decision to allow this 7-year-old to operate a boat in a narrow channel of the Hampton River," Bull told the Daily Press.

Elliott was sitting on the front of the boat and was thrown through the windshield and onto the rear of the vessel, according to reports. She died of severe trauma to the chest and head, according to a coroner’s report cited by the Daily Press.

While it’s not illegal in Virginia for a child to operate a boat, an adult could be charged with reckless boating, Bull told reporters.

"It's still an open-ended question whether laws were broken," Bull told The Virginian-Pilot.

Virginia Marine Police officials expect to hand over the results of their investigation to the Hampton prosecutor by the end of the week, according to the Daily Press.

In a separate incident, a woman was killed after a boat she was in struck a channel marker in the Rappahannock River in Middlesex County late Monday, according to a Virginian-Pilot report. Divers found 24-year-old Amanda Brady, of Richmond, on Tuesday morning.

At least 10 other passengers were aboard the 25-foot pleasure craft, including two who suffered life-threatening injuries, reports said.

-- Mike McPhate

By Washington Post Editors  |  July 6, 2010; 7:31 AM ET
Categories:  Virginia  
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Comments

???Considering charges ??? Against a little 9 year old or the dead mother? I dont see anything in regards to who else was on the boat. Was the mother intoxicated? Were there other adults on the boat at the same time? Who was acutally in charge of this child outside of the mother? Im dearly sorry to hear about this tragedy but Hampton is a little gungho to be talking about charges against a child who did not know any better. And if there is more to the story it would be nice to know what it is. As it is written it looks as though son and mother were the only ones there. You cant charge the mom and it would be misjustice to charge the child.

Posted by: undauntedtask | July 6, 2010 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Sounds like an accident to me...and one the mother was responsible for, since she let the kid pilot the boat. I don't see any need for charges. The kid probably feels bad enough.

Posted by: akchild | July 6, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

When a passenger in a car dies in a car crash, the headlines are never "Friend Kills Friend in car crash". I find it offensive to claim this boy killed his mother. It was a boating accident that resulted in her death. that is quite different from murder. You are insinuating the boy intended to kill her. the truth might not get as much attention, but if you want people to respect this website, it's more important.

Posted by: MarilynManson | July 6, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

The way you have titled this article is SO OFFENSIVE ands Misleading. Shame on the editor that let this pass. Have some class. The post is supposed to be a world class paper not a trashy tabloid.

Posted by: gcastle1 | July 6, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

The charges would be against the adult who let the child operate the boat, not the child. But there won't be any in this case. A horrible accident!

Posted by: beachbob | July 6, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

The way you have titled this article is SO OFFENSIVE ands Misleading. Shame on the editor that let this pass. Have some class. The post is supposed to be a world class paper not a trashy tabloid.

Posted by: gcastle1 | July 6, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Agreed, the headline is horribly misleading and downright offensive. I am quite shocked.

Posted by: Bigfoot_has_a_posse | July 6, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

What adult allows a 7 year old to pilot a boat? The only victim here is the child... for having STUPID parents.

Posted by: BLKManCommonSense | July 6, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

The headline of the story is irresponsible and ridiculous. It makes me wonder if the Post hasn't completely given itself over to the new "shock and titillation" style of news we have today in print and on tv. It makes me wonder how much REAL news we get about anything else going on in the World....

Posted by: aja3787 | July 6, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

The title of this story describes what happened! Why does it bother some of you is ridiculous.

Posted by: bobby20 | July 6, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Looks like a lot of assumptions here - on both sides. Here is my guess. Mom turns her back (facing back of boat), little one bolts for the controls (looks just like the play-station)hammers the throttle, because it is only a push down lever (why it wasn't lock out- who knows), by the time mom gets her balance the boat hits the pier and she takes it on the back of the head. Throttle is still open so the boat relaunches after initial collision, throwing mom back to the back of the boat.
I am curios to know where the boat went after the collision and how they got it under control.

PS - I hope they do charge this little boy. Again, everyone is assuming that they are going to throw him in jail. Perhaps the objective is to assess why this boy did this thing and assure he gets treatment. Unless they charge him, no assessment would be mandatory (and maybe never done) or help to deal with it offered.

Posted by: over202 | July 6, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Does John Bull know whether the mother was boating with John Barleycorn?

Posted by: kinkysr | July 6, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

The title of this story describes what happened! Why does it bother some of you is ridiculous.

Posted by: bobby20 | July 6, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Lots of questions left unanswered about the accident involving the 7 y o.

Re the last two paragraphs about the other accident... 12 ppl on a 25 foot boat is a LOT.

I'd bet alcohol was a factor in at least one, if not both, accidents.

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | July 6, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

@over202, Read the article! "Elizabeth Elliott, 35, her son and three other people were aboard the 20-foot vessel Sunday afternoon when someone let the boy take the wheel". There were three other people on the boat; while possible it doesn't seem like this kid stole the controls as you suggest.

Posted by: VoiceofReason77 | July 6, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Just an awful series of events that resulted in the death of this boys mother, of which it may haunt him the rest of his life. Common sense should of prevailed in this tragedy where perhaps in wide open water the young boy could of operated this boat of course under adult supervision but clearly the adults lacked extreme commons sense in this matter.

Posted by: james.lawsonjr@comcast.net | July 6, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Charges? I think they've all suffered enough.

Posted by: jckdoors | July 6, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Those of you who are puzzled about the complaints re: the headline may have missed the earlier version, which read something like "Boy kills mother with boat." That WAS misleading and I'm glad to see it's been changed.

My condolences to everyone involved in this terribly sad event.

Posted by: Rachelva | July 6, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Charges??? wtf PoPo... these people are hurting enough...

Posted by: rockettonu | July 6, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Good grief, people. The contemplated charges aren't against the 7-year old. They're against the dope who let the 7-year old pilot the boat (provided it's not his late mother, of course).

Posted by: Bethesda_Jack | July 6, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Does John Bull know whether the mother was boating with John Barleycorn?

Posted by: kinkysr | July 6, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Lots of questions left unanswered about the accident involving the 7 y o.

Re the last two paragraphs about the other accident... 12 ppl on a 25 foot boat is a LOT.

I'd bet alcohol was a factor in at least one, if not both, accidents.

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | July 6, 2010 12:22 PM | Re


Hey Larry and Daryl, care to make a racial or political stereotype of this idiot? I did not think so. Hmmmmmmm, Wonder why????

Posted by: ged0386 | July 6, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Whoever owns the boat is ultimately responsible for who takes the controls and it seems not one adult on that boat had anything that could pass for a brain. Just as a car can be as lethal as a gun, so can a boat and this is one perfect example. The child is old enough to understand actions bring consequences and I would not let him off the hook without a thorough psychological evaluation mainly for his wellbeing. And the owner at the very least should be barred from boating until he has passed a boating safety course and face whatever civil or criminal penalties that apply.

For those who think there should be no charges and everyone feels "bad" enough, think how you would feel if that was your loved one killed because of stupidity, ignorance and cluelessness. This so-called "accident" was SO preventable.

Posted by: Frustratededucator | July 6, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

@over202 ... poor reading comprehension, they are clearly looking at charges against an ADULT, not the kid ... sheesh.

And on the boat hitting a channel marker at night, possibly/likely a GPS error where the driver aimed at what the GPS highlighted --- the channel marker --- instead of being smart enough or sober enough to know that you don't aim directly at a large, heavy object like that, you aim to stay in the channel ...

Posted by: fendertweed | July 6, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

You should be ashamed of yourselves and hire a new editor. The Post has reached new lows in trying to attract readers.

This boy accidently killed his mother, he was probably injured as well. His physical wounds will heal, he may never recover fully from the psychological trauma.

I think it's safe to say that someone wasn't using good judgment letting a 7 year old pilot a boat loaded with passengers. Whoever made this decision was also injured and may never recover fully either, physicallt or mentally.

What if this person turns out to be the boys father? Do you really think it's worth further traumatizing these people so you can charge someone with negligent boating? That is a horrible abuse of government.

Posted by: Dudlio | July 6, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

I agree the child, and probably all of the survivors will need counseling and therapy but not as part of an investigation, as part of their medical treatment. The boy especially, my god can you imagine killing your own mother when your 7 years old? A horrible horrible accident.

Posted by: Dudlio | July 6, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

@Dudlio:

"You should be ashamed [...]

What if this person turns out to be the boys father? Do you really think it's worth further traumatizing these people so you can charge someone with negligent boating? That is a horrible abuse of government."


One can just as easily argue that by charging someone here, others will think twice before doing something similarly stupid, and the deterrent effect may just save a life or lives ... just sayin' ...

Posted by: fendertweed | July 6, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Good grief, people. The contemplated charges aren't against the 7-year old. They're against the dope who let the 7-year old pilot the boat (provided it's not his late mother, of course).

Posted by: Bethesda_Jack | July 6, 2010 1:28 PM

-------------------------------------------

The original headline made it sound like the child might be charged. If the WaPo had editors who were worth a darn, it never would have been posted like that.

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | July 6, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

The article reads two killed who is the second person? A vast majority of responses appear to be on a hunt to prosecute. I pray you are never seated on a jury and decide the fate of any of my loved ones or myself. This is not a story it is a real life family in tragedy. Have you ever considered yourself in there shoes. I think not. The press should should not print for the sake of drama and fortune, at the cost of human sorrow. yet it is what it is. Elizabeth Elliott died on the 4th of July. Does it not stand for anything or is it to quickly forgotten. Thank God there are still those voices who can speak with compassion for those to small or to weak.

Posted by: de_colores39 | July 6, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't sound like a very responsible group of adults on this boat. The results are tragic and this kid has to live with the results of someone allowing him to drive a boat!

Posted by: DecafDrinker | July 6, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Yet more examples of people doing foolish things in boats - when will people realize these are serious vehicles and need to be taken as serious as automobiles - I was boating this holiday weekend on the bay - returning to my marina before the fireworks - It amazed me the number of people who anchored in the middle of the channel to watch the fireworks, it also amazes me how many people ignore no-wake zones, speed way to fast in crowded areas - usually in a hurry to get home after a day of drinking out on the water, ignore the rules of the waterway and right of way. I even saw 2 boats anchored in the channel leading into the West River - with people swimming and jumping off the boats mid-channel - this just a few weeks after someone was killed while swimming in the same area. Speed above 10 knots should be reserved for areas clear of other boats (by a margin of at least 200 yards), and in no-wake areas - speeds above 5 knots are only justified when necessary to maintian steerage (usually when high wind/strong tides current make control at a slower speed impossible

Posted by: VirginiaResident2007 | July 6, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Though there is no age restriction here, the fact he was piloting a boat near structures shows someone showed poor judgment...If the mother was the boat owner and gave the boy permission then it's on her...

If someone else owns the boat, they are responsible even if the mother told the boy he could pilot the vessel...I have a feeling the mother was not the boat's owner...

Posted by: pentagon40 | July 6, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

The Post is not the only paper that comes up with poor headlines. The Richmond Times-Dispatch has a headline for its version of this story, which reads: "Mother killed from boat driven by 7-year-old son". I'm not sure that headline has any meaning whatsoever. That paper's story does make it clear, though, that the boat was owned by a family friend, who was on the boat at the time of the incident.

Posted by: truamerican | July 7, 2010 1:01 AM | Report abuse

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