Family Sues Boat Company After 20-Year-Old Jumped Off Yacht and Died in Florida Waters

An attorney for Enoch Tong's family alleged in a press conference Wednesday that the yacht crew did not warn the victim of the risk of jumping into the water

<p>USCGSoutheast/X</p> Enoch Tong


Enoch Tong

A family is suing a yachting company, as well as other companies and individuals, for negligence after their loved one jumped off a yacht and drowned in the waters of Florida’s Biscayne Bay in March.

The lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade County by an attorney on behalf of the family of Enoch Tong, alleged that the victim, Tong, and 12 other passengers were aboard the yacht Victoria on March 18, 2023, for a chartered cruise around Biscayne Bay.

While docked in the bay, Tong, 20, jumped off the boat “when he was caught in a rip tide and began to struggle to remain afloat," according to the complaint, which also alleged that "as a direct and proximate result," Tong "drowned and sustained severe injuries resulting in his death on March 19, 2023."

The complaint said that his body was found the day following the incident.

During a press conference on Wednesday, shared by local news outlet WPLG, attorney Pedro Echarte said that, "on March 18, 2023, Enoch Tong and his friends chartered a vessel from Impulsive Life LLC and its owner Darien Fresco, who are named defendants in this lawsuit."

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Echarte claimed that after several hours of cruising around the Bay, the boat was anchored.

He said that the currents were strong and ripping at the time of the incident, and alleged that "neither the captain nor the mate aboard that vessel warned Enoch or any of the passengers of the swimming hazard that existed.”

He then said that Tong had jumped into the water and begun to struggle.

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Mattie Bess, Tong’s mother, also spoke at the press conference, recalling the last time she saw her son that day. “Today I stand before you,” she said, “with a heart burdened by grief as a mother who has tragically lost her beloved son during a devasting incident."

"I want to ensure that no other parent has to endure the pain and heartache my family is currently going through and will go through for the rest of our lives," she added.

<p>USCGSoutheast/X</p> Enoch Tong


Enoch Tong

In the lawsuit, the family filed negligence claims against Impulsive Life LLC, Starward Yachts Inc, Jones Boat Yard Inc, multiple "acts and omissions" including: “failing to reasonably and properly train, instruct or supervise its employees, agents, contractors, masters, officers, crew members, or seamen”; “allowing unqualified and untrained employees, agents, contractors, masters, officers, crew members, or seamen to operate the Victoria”; failing to properly equip or use the available safety and lifesaving equipment aboard the Victoria”; “failing to implement reasonable and proper safety policies and procedures for its passengers (or failing to instruct its crew of the same)”; and "failing to warn its passengers of the risks of jumping in the water, especially during poor or deteriorating weather conditions."

Additionally, the complaint made negligence claims against multiple individuals, including crew members on the boat. The family is seeking damages in excess of $50,000, "exclusive of interest, costs, and attorney’s fees."

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According to the suit, the plaintiff, "demands a trial by jury of all issues triable as of right by a jury."

At a news conference in March, Miami Fire Rescue Lt. Pete Sanchez said, per NBC affiliate WTVJ: “We do know that his friends did throw life preservers they tried to help him but unfortunately, the current was just too strong.”

WSVN reported that a police investigation was launched in March but no one was charged.

PEOPLE has been unable to find contact information for Impulsive Life, LLC. Starward Yachts did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment. Jones Boat Yard was not immediately available for comment when reached by PEOPLE.

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