Lawsuit filed in boating death of Illinois boy

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The family of a boy who was run over by a boat on the Chain O’ Lakes filed a lawsuit that alleges the boater and a passenger were recklessly partying before the fatal crash.

The parents, two sisters and brother of Tony Borcia, 10, say the powerboat, called Purple Haze, was traveling so fast that its bow was lifted off the water, preventing the driver, David Hatyina, from seeing where he was going, according to a Chicago Tribune report.

Hatyina, 51, of Bartlett, Ill., has been charged with reckless homicide and aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol and cocaine in the July crash, prosecutors said. His passenger, Renee Melbourn, though named in the suit, has not been charged, and Assistant State’s Attorney Ari Fisz said he does not anticipate that she will be.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday, alleges that Hatyina was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs when, the suit asserts, he operated his 29-foot Baja Outlaw without a lookout, at an unsafe speed and in a reckless and dangerous manner, and failed to yield the right of way.

The family’s attorney, Matt Dudley, said that on waterways, right of way is given to craft that are approaching on the right. Tony’s father was on the right as he was towing two of his children on an inner tube just before the boy was struck.

The suit says Melbourn, 49, who attorneys said is Hatyina’s live-in girlfriend, helped maintain the craft and kept it at their house. She was with Hatyina on the boat that day and helped him get and ingest alcohol or cocaine that day, and should have known it was unsafe for him to be driving, the suit alleges.

Melbourn, reached by phone Thursday, declined to comment. Hatyina’s criminal defense attorney, Jack Donahue, expressed surprise that Melbourn was named in the lawsuit because she wasn’t driving. He said he expected her to eventually be dismissed from the suit. He said a witness will corroborate that the Borcias crossed in front of Hatyina’s boat.

The accident occurred July 28 when Tony’s father, James Borcia, was piloting a pontoon boat he had rented for the day on Petite Lake. Borcia was towing Tony and his sister when the boy fell off the tube. Borcia turned the boat around and saw a large white boat “flying” toward his son, prosecutors said. Tony, wearing a bright red life jacket, was in the water, waving his arms.

His father and siblings also waved their arms to stop the other boat, but it hit Tony and killed him as they watched. Tony’s sister, on the inner tube just yards away, also saw what happened.

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One comment on “Lawsuit filed in boating death of Illinois boy

  1. Dan

    I spent 7 seasons boating on the chain of lakes and it’s one of the most dangerous and congested bodies of water in the country ( per the USCG ). Everytime I went out I had numerous close calls with boaters who had no idea of the right of way and refused to follow the rules. Boats like the one involved, Baja Outlaws, frequently were seen going too fast no matter how crowded it was and with no regard for anyone else. Anything goes out there and I got so sick and tired of irresponsible boaters I sold my boat to avoid this very thing from happening to me. My sympathies to the family on the loss of their son.

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