Attorney says Mississippi man’s drowning on Miami River ‘completely preventable’

MIAMI – The family of a visitor who fell off a boat near the Brickell Avenue Bridge on St. St. Patrick’s Day and drowned in the Miami River has hired a law firm, which held a news conference Tuesday about what its lawyers call a “completely preventable” death.

Trevonte C. Johnson, 23, of Coila, Mississippi, was with five other friends visiting South Florida on March 17 when he fell off a chartered boat and drowned, officials said; Miami Fire Rescue personnel recovered his body from the bottom of the river but were unable to save him.

His family has since hired Stuart-based law firm Rubin & Rubin, which plans to hold a news conference in Brickell Tuesday afternoon; it says it seeks to “get answers” ​​for the family.

The firm claims the boat, chartered by Johnson’s friends, was “not properly equipped” and was helmed by an “incapable” captain.

Authorities recovered a man’s body from the Miami River on Sunday. (WPLG)

“Trevonte couldn’t swim,” attorney Guy Rubin said. “The charter captain didn’t know it because he didn’t speak English, didn’t give his guests a safety briefing and had no life vests.”

Attorneys also claim that other party boats on the river may have contributed to Johnson’s death.

“Trevonte may have been hit by another boat while struggling in the water,” Rubin said.

The firm stated in a news release that “safe boating practices were not followed or enforced by law enforcement despite a number of accidents and deaths on the Miami River.”

Johnson’s aunt also spoke remotely at Tuesday’s news conference.

“Once they rented that boat and the captain decided to take them out, their safety was in his hands,” Jestine Matthews said.

Johnson’s family is asking anyone who may have been on the Miami River and witnessed this to come forward. You may have valuable information for the case.

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