Boy's family files suit in Petite Lake boat crash
The family of a 10-year-old Libertyville boy killed in a boating mishap on the Chain O' Lakes this summer has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against a Bartlett man and woman who were in the boat that struck the victim.
The lawsuit filed Thursday in Lake County circuit court by Margaret Borcia, the mother of Antonio "Tony" Borcia, contends David Hatyina, 50, of Bartlett, was intoxicated and on cocaine while driving a 29-foot Baja watercraft he nicknamed "Purple Haze" when it ran over the boy on Petite Lake on July 28.
It seeks damages of more than $50,000 for Margaret Borcia, as well as more than $50,000 for each person in Tony's immediate family who witnessed his death.
"Tony's family has and will continue to need the assistance of medical professionals for the horrific events they witnessed and for the incalculable loss they have suffered," Libertyville attorney Matthew Dudley said in a news release. "The civil justice system should ensure that the individuals responsible bear the burden of those costs."
Renee Melbourn, who was a passenger in the boat with Hatyina when the crash took place, is also being sued by the Borcia family. According to the lawsuit, Melbourne, of Bartlett, helped pay for the boat and allowed Hatyina to operate it while he was intoxicated and on cocaine.
Hatyina has been charged by Lake County authorities with five counts of operating a watercraft while under the influence that resulted in death and four counts of reckless homicide. He is free on $1 million bond.
Melbourne was not charged following the crash.
Attorney Jack Donahue of Naperville, who represents Hatyina, said he expected a lawsuit would be filed in the case, and noted the death of Tony Borcia "is a tragedy for everyone involved."
According to the lawsuit, Hatyina and Melbourn were boating when they struck and killed Borcia after he had fallen off an inner tube that was being pulled by a pontoon boat operated by his father, James Borcia.
The pontoon boat also contained two of Tony Borcia's siblings, while a third sibling was on the inner tube, yards away from the crash, the lawsuit states.
Attorneys say Tony Borcia was wearing a red life vest and was "frantically" waving his arms above his head after he fell off the inner tube, making him "clearly visible to anyone on the lake."
In addition, attorneys say Hatyina was operating his boat at an excessive rate of speed, and that the watercraft contained numerous empty and partially consumed bottles of alcohol.
Attorneys also contend a lab analysis of Hatyina's blood tested positive for levels of cocaine consistent with ingestion shortly before the crash, and that Hatyina had a blood-alcohol level at the time of the crash in excess of the legal limit.
"It is the Borcia family's desire to hold both Mr. Hatyina and Ms. Melbourn accountable for the irresponsible and reckless actions that took Tony's life," Dudley said. "The choices Mr. Hatyina and Ms. Melbourn made that day prevented them from recognizing that a helpless 10-year-old boy was directly in the path of their 29-foot cigarette boat."