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Boating Accident Claims the Life of Former Pasco County Commission Candidate

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Posted on September 10, 2013

Updated on October 13, 2013

On Sunday, September 1st, 2013 a fatal boating accident claimed the life of Joshua Griffin, 29 of Land-O-Lakes. Griffin was riding on a boat piloted by his brother, Jeffrey-Jeremiah, 32, along with a friend, Denelle Walicke, 25, when it struck a channel marker shortly before midnight close to the shore of Port Richey. Griffin was ejected from the 22 ft. Boston Whaler at the time of impact, just yards from the Hooters Boat Ramp.

Officials reported that two others were out on the boat at night following another excursion earlier that day in which the two brothers had been boating with family members and celebrating their sister’s birthday.

The father of the victim, Jeff Griffin, said, “My sons were bonded together. They were joined at the hip. Jeremy’s just devastated. This is his best friend.” Jeff explained that his son, Jeffrey-Jeremiah, had been performing CPR on his brother until emergency responders arrived. They were able to contact authorities while still afloat, after pulling Joshua back aboard.

Accident investigators believed that Griffin was thrown from the boat and collided with the channel marker just after the boat’s front right side struck the marker. The boat was believed to have been travelling between 25 to 45 mph at the time of the impact, but was able to return to shore under its own power. Pasco Fire Rescue met the ailing, but afloat vessel as it returned to shore. A blood sample was drawn from Jeffery-Jeremiah Griffin, but investigators did not comment on whether alcohol contributed to the accident. Update: Jeffery Griffin’s blood alcohol came back at 0.093, under Florida law boaters over 0.08 are presumed impaired. Joshua Griffin was pronounced dead at the scene at 12:15am on Monday morning.

About two years ago, Joshua Griffin ran for Pasco County Commission, but lost in the primary race to opponent Kathryn Starkey. Friends said the Griffin had aspirations of making another run for political office down the road, after building more experience and earning a law degree over the next few years. Griffin’s parents, Jeff and Danielle, regularly attended local political functions and had an active interest in local community politics.

Townsend, a family friend, had nothing but positive remarks as he expressed grief over Griffin’s unfortunate death. “He was always smiling, that’s just the way he was. He had a smile on his face. We told him he was young and had his whole life ahead of him.” Griffin worked in his family’s business as an IT Project Manager and was a graduate of the University of Tampa.

In a public statement, an official from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reiterated how this tragedy serves as a sad reminder for recreational boaters during the warm-weather holidays.

“A lot of people during a holiday weekend don’t pay attention, they are out having a good time and relaxing and that’s when bad things can happen,” said Baryl Martin, Conservation Initiative Officer, spokesperson.