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Boater allegedly involved in teen’s death had ‘no knowledge’ of accident: Lawyer

Written by on May 18, 2024

(KEY BISCAYNE, Fla.) — The boater accused of fatally striking a Florida teenager has released surveillance footage that he said shows he was unaware his boat had collided with the teen, according to his attorney.

In the video, which was released by ABC affiliate WPLG, the boat operator appears to be calm after arriving back to the dock. The boat operator’s attorney said this supports the claim that her client was unaware of the collision. Ella Adler, 15, was killed in the collision.

“This was an unthinkable tragedy and our hearts break for Ella and her family. We hope this video helps to shut down some of the awful and unfounded rumors going around about Bill, who is absolutely devastated,” Lauren Krasnoff, the boater’s attorney, said in a statement to WPLG.

“As the video shows, Bill was alone. He was not drinking. And he had no clue that he may have hit someone – he parked the boat at his home, he was calm, he didn’t clean the boat, and he did not try to hide anything. Bill will continue to cooperate with law enforcement in every possible way,” Krasnoff said.

ABC has not independently obtained, confirmed or verified the video released by the attorney.

The boater previously said he had “no knowledge” of the accident and is “devastated” to learn he may have been involved, according to his attorney.

Adler had fallen while wakeboarding near Nixon Beach in Key Biscayne on Saturday and was waiting for her vessel when another boat struck her and didn’t stop, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said.

FWC said it seized a boat believed to be connected to the hit-and-run and identified the vessel’s owner and operator on Wednesday as a 78-year-old Coral Gables resident. He is cooperating with the investigation, the FWC said. No charges have been announced in the case.

Krasnoff previously released a video statement on his behalf Thursday in response to “numerous” media inquiries.

“This is the worst possible tragedy and before saying anything else, we want to express our deepest sympathies to Ella Adler’s family and friends,” Krasnoff said.

“Because this is an ongoing investigation with which he is fully cooperating, he will not be making any statements to the media other than to say that he was beyond devastated to learn that he may have been involved in this awful tragedy,” she continued.

Krasnoff said that the man is a “very experienced boater” who is familiar with the bay. He was boating by himself on Saturday and “has no knowledge whatsoever of having been involved in this accident,” she said.

“If he hit Ella that day, he certainly did not know it,” she said, adding that he “absolutely would have stopped” if he realized he had.

“He docked his boat in plain sight right behind his house, and did not even know there was an accident on the water that day until officers showed up at his door,” she said.

He is “absolutely devastated by the loss of this intelligent, accomplished and beautiful young woman,” she said.

Krasnoff said the operator of the boat will continue to cooperate with law enforcement in the ongoing investigation.

The FWC announced Tuesday it had found a boat matching the description given by witnesses of the striking vessel. The 42-foot Boston Whaler has been transported to an FWC evidence compound, the agency said.

FWC officers have called for anyone with information or footage to contact them.

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