Family patriarch: Boat in fatal accident had a crack

The husband and father of members of a Naples family killed in a boating accident near Marco Island said Sunday that he had noticed a “stress crack” in the boat they were using Saturday night.

Alan Molter is married to Linda Molter, 42, of 15095 Summit Place Circle, who died in the crash. Alan Molter’s daughter, Meagan Molter, 22, and her fiance, Harper Simpson, 31, who recently purchased a house in Golden Gate Estates, also were killed.

Officials still are searching offshore for 20-year-old James Molter, also of Summit Place Circle, who is Alan Molter’s son.

Alan Molter’s daughter, 16-year-old Jennifer Molter, of the same address, who was a Gulf Coast High School student, survived the crash.

Alan Molter said Sunday that Simpson purchased the 32-foot Powerplay boat nearly three weeks ago. Alan Molter said he noticed a stress crack on the boat, but wasn’t sure if the crack was there before Simpson bought the boat.

According to a boat repair Web site, www.davidandangel.com, stress cracks occur because of voids under the surface of the gelcoat, and/or a lack of strength in the underlying fiberglass or compounds used in the structure of the boat.

Alan Molter also relayed to the Daily News this account provided to him by his daughter, who survived the crash:

Jennifer Molter told her father that Simpson warned the family members of an oncoming wave and told them to sit down. After safely navigating the first wave, Simpson again warned the family to sit, but a second wave tore the boat apart, throwing the family into the water.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and state marine investigators are trying to determine the cause of the accident. Crews were at work Sunday on a salvage operation and brought pieces to shore in Marco Island.

“It’s a terrible, sad situation,” Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokeswoman Dani Moschella said. “This is a family that is devastated.”

The family members died when the boat traveling at high speed flew into the air, slammed back into the water and broke apart Saturday night off Marco Island, a Collier County sheriff’s official has said.

A search by the U.S. Coast Guard and Collier County Sheriff’s Office for James Molter resumed early Sunday and continued as of late Sunday afternoon. A dive team had searched for the missing man offshore Saturday until dark, when the search had to be suspended.

Operators of Rose Marco River Marina said crews left about 8 a.m. Sunday to begin salvaging pieces of the 32-foot boat that broke apart .

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Comments » 1

gersh writes:

the father, Mr Motler, should not beat himself up from not saying anything about a stess crack. Stress cracks ... small linear fractures are found on most used high speed boats. They are the result of the constant ponding and flexing of the fiberglass. The stress cracks are normally seen in the " gelcoat ". Gelcoat is the thin color coat placed over the fiberglass resin & matt. The gelcoat is mostly decorative and only structural in keeping high pressure water out of the BOTTOM running surfaces. Large, non linear ( jagged ) cracks are normally the sign of stuctual damage ........ not stress cracks.

Mr. Motler could not have prevented that accident by rectifying the stress crack or cracks. Perhaps the bow of this boat was improperly repaired from a previous MAJOR damage but more than likely the bow disintergrated due to the stuffing

My heart aches for the remainning family members ... they should not fret about not doing something about this.

If we want to be constuctive, we can push the insurance companies and / or support the one high performance driving school ( I think operated by Tres Martin in Miami )to educate all who purchase a boat running 60 mph or above.

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