Waterway agency dismissed from wrongful death suit
By Jim Newton email@example.com | @JimNewton5 December 23, 2013 6:30PM
David Hatyina, 51, of Bartlett, enters the courtroom before his sentencing hearing June 13, 2013, in the Lake County Courthouse in Waukegan. | Stacey Wescott~Pool photo
Updated: January 25, 2014 6:15AM
The Fox Lake Waterway Agency has been dismissed from a civil lawsuit seeking damages in the death of 10-year-old Tony Borcia of Libertyville, who was killed in a July 2012 boating crash on Petite Lake.
Judge James Murphy, a Kane County Judge hearing the case in Lake County Circuit Court to avoid any potential conflicts, dismissed the agency from the suit with prejudice on Thursday.
The suit, filed by the Borcia family, claimed that the waterway agency is required by state law to “implement reasonable programs and adopt necessary and reasonable ordinances and rules to improve and maintain the waterways for the purposes of boating, water skiing, and other recreational purposes.”
Chicago attorney Eric Kaplan said a motion to dismiss the waterway agency from the suit claimed the the agency is immune from such liability claims under the Tort Immunity Act, and that the judge agreed.
“Obviously it’s a horrible tragedy and there are certain responsible parties for the tragedy,” Kaplan said Monday.
The driver of the boat that killed Borcia, David Hatyina of Bartlett, remains as a defendant in the suit, as does Renee Melbourn, a woman on board with him that day, and the Spring Lake Marina, which the Borcia family claims was negligent in not warning them about safety hazards when they rented a pontoon boat.
Hatyina, who was under the influence of cocaine and alcohol when he ran over Borcia, was sentenced in June to 10 years in prison — matching the Tony’s age at the time of his death.
“No sentence can bring what we really want — to bring Tony back. We believe justice has been served,” Tony’s father, Jim Borcia, said after the sentencing hearing.
According to Lake County sheriff’s deputies and prosecutors, Borcia was killed after he fell off an inner tube while boating with his family on Petite Lake on July 28, 2012.
While wearing a red flotation device and waiting for his family’s pontoon boat to circle back and pick him up, the boy was struck by a speedboat operated by Hatyina, causing fatal injuries.
Hatyina was charged with reckless homicide and aggravated driving under the influence, alleging that he had a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit of .08 and that he had used cocaine.
The lawsuit remains active against the other defendants in the case. Because the judge dismissed the allegations in the suit against the waterway agency with prejudice, that decision cannot be appealed at the circuit court level.