College student faces misdemeanor charges in fatal Fort Lauderdale boat crash

Teen killed, 5 others hurt when boat crashed into bridge in 2015

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Prosecutors are filing charges against the person who was operating the boat involved in the death of a 17-year-old St. Thomas Aquinas High School student in 2015.

John Baker Jr. died and five other teenagers were injured after the 13-foot Boston Whaler struck a bridge on the Middle River in Fort Lauderdale. Authorities now claim he was operating the boat with one light when state law requires all around lighting. 

Prosecutors filed four misdemeanor charges against Christopher Gernert, now a college student, alleging that he didn't stop in time, was speeding and didn't provide enough life vests for everyone on board. 

Baker's father, John Baker, said his family never meant any harm to Gernert, whom he said was his son's good friend. 

"They were football buddies at St. Thomas and we have nothing against him at all and never will," Baker said. "I think the attorneys are just doing what they have to do."

Prosecutors didn't consider Gernert's actions were directly related to the teenager's death. 

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