A yacht captain is now detained on federal charges of neglect and misconduct after one of his passengers died after being "sucked up by the propeller" of a 91-foot yacht while on a pleasure cruise in Biscayne Bay.
Raul Menendez and six of his friends decided to spend April 1 aboard a luxurious 91-foot yacht named "Miami Vice" on a cruise to Monument Island. Menendez, 25, and his friends paid $3,000 for the four-hour cruise, piloted by 49-year-old Mauricio Alvarez and his 22-year-old son, Andrew Tarcisio, as first mate.
After some time docked off the island's shore, federal prosecutors allege, Alvarez started the engines and put the massive boat in reverse just before 5 p.m. According to the complaint, he didn't check to make sure he was clear to back up, and the boat hit two of the passengers swimming behind the ship.
Immediately, a man identified as a "second passenger," yelled to Alvarez that "he could not feel his legs." Alvarez told investigators he shut off the engine, ran to the back of the boat and jumped in the water to pull the injured man to safety.
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"Once the engines stopped, the second passenger noticed a cloud of blood in the water," the complaint read. Menendez was killed.
Alvarez told investigators "he regretted not ensuring every passenger knew that he was going to start the [yacht's] engines," and that his son was standing right next to him when he started the engines. He also said he didn't have a U.S. Captain's license, formal training in operating a boat or experience driving a boat that size. Weeks earlier, the Coast Guard issued Alvarez a violation for operating an illegal charter as an unlicensed captain.
Four days after Menendez's death, federal investigators noticed Alvarez had booked a flight to Panama City, Panama and called him. He told them he'd been working with Miami Vice for about six months and had completed 40 chartered trips. He told authorities he was planning a trip to Orlando to visit family.
Police officers caught Alavarez and his son at the Fort Lauderdale International Airport that night with "several large bags," all set to fly to Panama. Police said Alvarez told them he "was attempting to leave the United States because he was scared of being criminally charged and felt he could make a better decision of what to do if he was outside the United States."
He was arrested April 6 and remains detained on charges of misconduct or neglect that resulted in death.