Miami man pleads guilty in 2020 boating crash deaths of young couple in the Bahamas


MIAMI – A Miami man who drove a powerboat at high speed into a rocky area off the coast of Bimini pleaded guilty Wednesday to involuntary manslaughter charges following the death of two passengers three years ago, according to the Department of Justice.

Investigators said on July 2, 2020, Josbel Fernandez Echevarria, 37, was the operator of a 32-foot powerboat in waters off the coast of Bimini in the Bahamas when he “failed to maintain a proper lookout and failed to proceed at a safe speed.”

Authorities said Echevarria’s girlfriend, Violeta Khouri, 31, Carolyn Alvarez, 26, and Alvarez’s boyfriend, Javier M. Perez, 29, were onboard the boat when it crashed at 10:29 p.m.

According to the Bahamian Air Sea Rescue Association, the boat hit North Turtle Rock, a high-tide elevation marked on all navigational charts, as well as on the boat’s navigation system, during the crash and was traveling at 43.4 mph at the time of impact.

Authorities said Echevarria and his girlfriend were injured, but Perez and Alvarez did not survive the crash. Perez’s body was found on North Turtle Rock.

The search was extensive for Alvarez, who to this day hasn’t been found, according to investigators.

Echevarria and Khouri were airlifted to a South Florida hospital following the crash.

A man and woman who were injured during a boat crash in Bimini were rushed to Broward Health. (Bob Palumbo-Local 10 News)

The DOJ said Perez and Alvarez’s death occurred due to Echevarria’s failure to maintain a proper lookout and failure to proceed at a safe speed in violation of Parts 5 and 6 of the International Steering and Sailing Rules.

Echevarria faces up to eight years in prison on each involuntary manslaughter count at his Jan. 12, 2024, sentencing before U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams.

He also faces criminal fines of up to $250,000 for each count and a period of supervised release of up to three years.

About the Author:

Ryan Mackey is a Digital Journalist at WPLG. He was born in Long Island, New York, and has lived in Sunrise, Florida since 1994.