A 25-year-old man died after being struck by propellers on April 1. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) confirmed that Raul Menendez was a guest aboard 91-foot M/Y Miami Vice when the accident occurred at Monument Island in Miami-Dade.
According to FWC, Menendez was one of seven passengers aboard the charter vessel, which was operated by Mauricio Alvarez, 20, and 22-year-old mate Andrew Tarcisio.
The FWC accident information report stated the vessel was beached at Monument Island when Alvarez engaged the engines in reverse while Menendez was in the water. He was struck by the propellers and died. Authorities have not yet clarified whether Menendez jumped into the water or if he fell.
“The FWC will be conducting a thorough boating incident investigation, but preliminary information indicates that (Menendez) was struck by the vessel’s propellers,” says Rob Klepper, FWC Law Enforcement Division Public Information Officer, in an email to Dockwalk. “Remains found by the FWC and other responding agencies confirm that the victim is deceased, and FWC officers and dive team members continue to search the area.”
According to the local ABC affiliate, Local 10, alcohol is not considered a factor, but charges are pending. The Miami Beach Police Department is working with FWC on the investigation, and the vessel has been secured by the Coast Guard.
UPDATE 4/13/18: According to a report by NBC Miami, Mauricio Alvarez was arrested on Wednesday as he attempted to board an international flight at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. At the time of the April 1 incident when Raul Menendez died after being struck by the vessel’s propellers, Alvarez did not have a U.S. captain’s license. NBC reports that he is being charged with misconduct or neglect of a ship officer that resulted in the death of an individual. This carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.
UPDATE 5/18/18: The investigation into Mauricio Alvarez has been ongoing since his April 6 arrest.
ABC News reports that Alvarez told authorities in a “consensual phone interview” that he was going to visit family in Orlando. Instead, he bought a ticket to Panama with Spirit Airlines. Airline records reveal that he tried buying the Panama ticket before the call but was unable to because his card was declined. It was shortly after his phone call with investigators that he was able to complete his purchase.
Authorities say Alvarez did not have formal training to operate a vessel, nor did he have his U.S. captain’s license.
M/Y Miami Vice owner Laurent Marc-Antoine Jean Maubert-Cayla was arrested and charged in connection with the incident off Monument Island, according to local ABC affiliate Local 10. He is charged with misconduct or neglect of a ship officer that resulted in the death of an individual.
The court records state that Maubert-Cayla is part-owner of the vessel. Federal prosecutors said that he hired Alvarez to drive the yacht during charters, even though he knew that Alvarez didn’t have the appropriate license and that Alvarez was cited by the Coast Guard in March for operating a charter without the proper license. The Miami Herald reports that according to federal prosecutors the yacht owner allegedly filmed the captain doing cocaine.
Maubert-Cayla has a bond hearing scheduled for August 7, and Alvarez’s own trial for misconduct or neglect of a ship officer that resulted in the death of an individual is expected to begin on September 4.
The Associated Press reports that Mauricio Alvarez pleaded guilty in Miami federal court on August 28 to misconduct or neglect of a ship officer that resulted in the death of an individual. His sentencing is scheduled for November 19.