Tuesday, May 23, 2017

SPEED KILLS: The cause of the deadly speedboat crash at the Jersey Shore. David Raabe, 38, of Forked River was killed in the crash. His teammate on the boat, 35-year-old James Byrne of Nutley, was critically injured.

Unexpected Turn By 'Repeat Offender' Led To Point Pleasant Grand Prix Fatal:
 Monday, May 22, 2017 11:04PM
POINT PLEASANT BEACH, N.J. (WPVI) -- Investigators are trying to figure out what caused two boats to collide during a race at the Jersey Shore that killed one person and injured another.  It is rather obvious though that speed, combined with the rough waters, is the cause of the crash.  These lightweight speedboats cannot handle rough waters and they become airborne.  This is what happened her.

The deadly speedboat crash happened Sunday afternoon during the Grand Prix race off Point Pleasant Beach.

David Raabe, 38, of Forked River was killed in the crash.

His teammate on the boat, 35-year-old James Byrne of Nutley, was critically injured.

"The last boat kind of went right into the second to last boat. The two men were ejected and then all of a sudden it was gone," witness Doreen Lobue said.

Authorities say for unknown reasons, during one of the races, their boat, named Repeat Offender, turned and crossed into the path of another boat named Smith Brothers.

"One of the boats was in the air because of rough water and when it came down, it came down on the other boat," Point Pleasant Mayor Stephen Reid said.

Brothers Richard Smith of Souderton and Peter Smith of Riverton were ejected from their boat, which then sank. They were not seriously injured.

Racers say conditions Sunday were difficult.

"The guy that was running the throttles on our boat said he hasn't seen waters like this since 2004," boat driver Randy Clayton said.

David Raabe was the father of three and an experienced racer. His family in Forked River declined to comment.

Attempts to reach the Smith brothers were unsuccessful.

The boat Repeat Offender has been wrapped up in tarp and will be examined by investigators.

"Was it operator error? Was it ocean conditions? It's very easy hitting those speeds to lose control. Could it have been something mechanical?" Al Della Fave of the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office said.

All of those things will be looked at along with interviews with the survivors.
The Coast Guard says the Smith brothers' boat is still at the bottom of the ocean, but is not a navigation hazard.


Unexpected Turn By 'Repeat Offender' Led To Point Pleasant Grand Prix Fatal: Prosecutor's Office

David Raabe, 38, of Forked River died in the Sunday afternoon race. One other man was severely injured.

By Patricia A. Miller (Patch Staff) - May 22, 2017 11:31 am ET

Authorities don't know why the powerboat "Repeat Offender" turned directly in front of another boat in the Point Pleasant Beach Grand Prix on Saturday afternoon.

But the turn was the cause of a fatal crash that took the life of a Lacey Township man and severely injured another, said Al Della Fave, spokesman for the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office.

Both the "Repeat Offender" and the powerboat "Smith Brothers" were racing around the 4.5-mile rectangular course at 12:55 p.m., shortly after the race began, he said.

The "Smith Brothers," operated by Peter Smith, 50, Riverton, and his brother Richard Smith, 53, of Souderton, Pennsylvania, who was at the throttle, struck "Repeat Offender" while in a turn, Della Fave said.

"Repeat Offender," operated by driver James Byrne, 35, of Nutley, and David Raabe, 38, of Forked River, who was at the throttle, were also racing when for an "unknown reason" the vessel crossed directly in front of the Smith Brothers vessel, causing the collision, Della Fave said.

The crash occurred during the first lap of seven while in the first turn at the second of three water buoys. The buoys navigate the boats through their turn, he said.

When the boats collided, both occupants on "Smith Brothers" were ejected. The vessel sank and has not yet been recovered. Both brothers refused medical attention. But they were transported to Ocean Care Center, where they each consented to a provide blood samples.

Both Raabe and Byrne were stuck by the hull of the Smith Brothers boat as it passed over the top of them. Both men were wearing full helmets. Raabe sustained serious head injuries and was pronounced dead at 1:22 p.m. Byrne suffered serious injuries and was transported to Jersey Shore University Medical Center where he is listed in critical condition, Della Fave said.

Byrne's injuries prevented him from providing a statement as to why the vessel turned in front of the Smith vessel. Both Smith brothers provided a taped statement at the Point Pleasant Beach Police Department, he said.

Detective Michael Proto of the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office is the accident's lead investigator. The Ocean County Sheriff Department CSI responded to the U.S. Coast Guard Station to photograph the vessel and document damage associated with the accident.


Nutley man hospitalized after fatal speedboat crash
Owen Proctor , Staff Writer @OwenProctor1 8:42 p.m. ET May 22, 2017

(Photo: Courtesy of Nutley Chamber of Commerce)

A survivor of Sunday afternoon’s fatal Grand Prix speedboat accident at Point Pleasant Beach is a Nutley businessman.

James P. Byrne, 35, helmed the Repeat Offender racing boat as it inexplicably crossed in front of the Smith Brothers boat, according to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.The collision caused the latter vessel’s hull to strike Byrne and his throttle operator, David Raabe, of Forked River, as it passed over the top of them, authorities said.

Raabe sustained head injuries and was pronounced dead at 1:22 p.m., the prosecutor reported. Byrne also had serious injuries and as of Sunday was listed in critical condition at the Jersey Shore University Medical Center, authorities said.

Byrne, known to many as "JP," serves on the Nutley Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, overseeing member benefits, according to the chamber website. He has been a chamber member since 2014.

The lifelong resident and Nutley High School graduate is a financial consultant with AXA Advisors.

Chamber Administrator Barbara Chiarieri told the Nutley Sun that she fielded calls Monday from concerned members. Many were surprised to hear Byrne was involved in speedboat racing, she said.

“We knew he did scuba diving and some extreme sports,” Chiarieri said, “but we had no idea [of his Grand Prix racing].”

Rossi did discuss his involvement with the Spartan Races, she said. Spartan Races are franchised, obstacle-course competitions, including mud runs. Races vary for endurance and fun, including Spartan pro challenges and Kid Races, according to its website.

“Our prayers are with him and his family at this time,” Nutley Mayor Joseph Scarpelli said Monday.

The Smith brothers, driver Peter, or Riverton, and throttle operator Richard, of Souderton, Pa., ejected from their boat, which sank, according to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office. Both refused medical treatment but provided blood samples at the Ocean Care Center, authorities said.

Due to his injuries, Byrne could not immediately provide a statement to police, the prosecutor reported.