The parents of two men killed in a collision between a dinghy and a larger vessel near Catalina Island in 2015 are suing the manufacturer of the bigger boat and its owners, alleging it had defective navigational lights and that the lookout was an inexperienced minor.

A third lawsuit targets Tradewood Inflatables & Marine Inc., which designed the dinghy’s seating and lighting assemblies.

One of those who died, 26-year-old Michael Joseph Harris, was the son of onetime San Francisco 49ers CEO Peter Harris. Also killed was 25-year-old Tyler Garrett Hayden. Kelly Margaret Wells was with Harris and Hayden in the dinghy and was injured.

The plaintiffs are Peter Harris and his wife, Janet, the father and mother of Michael Harris; Hayden’s parents, Gary and Dianne Hayden; and Wells. The wrongful death complaints were filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court.

In one suit, the plaintiffs are suing Boston Whaler Boats and Brunswick Boats Inc., which sold the 17-foot larger vessel, dubbed the Mark L. Bixby. In the second lawsuit they name as defendants the parents of the 17-year-old who allegedly was the lookout on the Bixby when it collided with the dinghy, named the Sirena. The minor also is a defendant.

The third lawsuit alleges the dinghy also did not have proper navigational warning lights, nor was there a warning to passengers to avoid sitting in places that could block other boats from seeing the lights.

Representatives for the defendants could not be immediately reached.

The accident near Descanso Bay occurred about 1:15 a.m. on Sept. 6, 2015, when the Sirena was hit by the Bixby. The dinghy was being driven back from Avalon — where those aboard had gone earlier to watch a USC football game together — to its parent boat, the Wasabi, at White’s Cove on Catalina Island, the second suit states.

The Bixby “was not equipped with necessary and reasonable navigation lights … thereby not giving notice to other vehicles of its presence,” the first suit states.

The lawsuit against the minor and her parents alleges the 17-year-old girl “took part in the operation and lookout” of the Bixby “and did so in darkness … and did so on a busy and crowded Labor Day weekend … and did so while the Mark L. Bixby was traveling at high and/or excessive speeds.”

Her parents should not have allowed their daughter to be a lookout on the Bixby when it was traveling in darkness without proper navigational lighting and while it was moving at high speed in a crowded area, according to the lawsuit.

–City News Service

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