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Point Pleasant Beach Fatal Boat Accident

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CONTACT: Al Della Fave
Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office
P.O. Box 2191
Toms River, NJ  08753
Phone: (732) 288-7616
Cellular: (732) 814-7347

On Sunday, May 21, 2017, at approximately 1255 p.m. Point Pleasant Beach PD was notified of a fatal vessel crash that occurred at the Point Pleasant Grand Prix event.

A 2012, 26′ Joker (race boat: “Smith Brothers”), operated by Peter Smith (driver) of Riverton N.J. and his brother Richard Smith (throttle) of Souderton, P.A., were racing around a 4.5 mile rectangular course when they struck another vessel while in a turn. A similar race boat “Repeat Offender”, operated by James Byrne (driver) of Nutley and David Raabe (throttle) of Forked River were also racing when for an unknown reason the vessel crossed directly in front of the Smith Brothers vessel causing the collision. The crash occurred during the first lap of seven while in the first turn at the second of three water buoys (the 3 buoys navigate the boats through their turn). 

Upon impact, both occupants on the “Smith Brothers” vessel were ejected. The vessel then sank and as of this report has not been recovered. Both brothers refused medical attention, however, were transported to Ocean Care Center where both consented in providing a blood sample. 

As a result of the crash, Raabe and Byrne were stuck by the hull of the Smith Brothers boat as it passed over top of them. All occupants were wearing full helmets. Raabe sustained serious head injuries and subsequently was pronounced dead at 1:22 p.m. The other operator, Byrne sustained serious injuries and was transported to Jersey Shore University Medical Center where he is listed in critical condition. 

Due to injuries sustained to Byrne, a statement could not be obtained as to why the vessel turned in front of the Smith vessel. Both Smith brothers provided a taped statement at the P.P. Beach PD. 

Det Michael Proto of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office is the accident lead investigator. The Ocean County Sheriff Department CSI responded to the U.S. Coast Guard Station to photograph the vessel and document damage associated with the accident.

Operator/Boat Info.

Vessel 1: at fault

26′ Magnum

“Repeat Offender”

Operator 1: deceased

David Raabe – throttle 

Forked River, NJ 

DOB: 11-17-1978 38 y/o 

Operator 2:

James Byrne – driver

Nutley, NJ 07110

DOB: 5-12-1982

Vessel 2:

2012 Joker 26 foot 

“Smith Brothers”

Operator 1:

Richard Smith – throttle 

Souderton, PA 18964 

DOB: 3-10-1964 53 y/o

Operator 2:

Peter Smith – driver 

Riverton, NJ 08777 

DOB: 7-3-1966 50 y/o 

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