Pinellas boater charged with DUI after hit-and-run crash into dock on Thanksgiving

Robert Hart and the dock he is accused of crashing into.


PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A drunken boater went on a dangerous joyride in Pinellas County, smashing into docks and crashing into boats.

And he came close to putting children in serious danger.

On Thanksgiving night, a large boat without any lights on started charging through Boca Ciega bay, leaving a swath of damage in its wake.

“Could’ve been a real tragedy here last night,” said Pat Hughes.

Hughes had children fishing on her dock, when they looked up and saw the boat heading right toward them.

“Just scary. Just frightening. It makes you so angry that somebody would do something like that,” said Hughes.

Officials say the driver of the boat, 44-year-old Robert Hart, was heavily intoxicated. He missed the dock by inches. However, a dock owned by Hughes’ neighbor Andy Kotsaftis, didn’t fare so well.

“He went right through my dock, he never backed up after he hit it,” said Kotsaftis.

The boat plowed through the dock, completely snapping the wood boards as if they were twigs. Officials say Hart also had his son-in-law on board. It’s unclear at this time why the passenger didn’t stop Hart.

“They went right this dock, kept going, hit another dock over there,” described witness Albert Vogt.

Witnesses say he slammed into nearly ten docks, while hitting boats along the way. Authorities then caught up with him at a marina.

Hart was arrested and charged with boating under the influence and for leaving the scene of a crash. Everyone is counting their blessings that no one hurt, especially Pat Hughes.

“It’s so frightening that you hate to think what could’ve happened,” said Hughes.

The children are ok. And on this thanksgiving weekend, that’s something to truly be thankful for.

It’s still unclear why the passenger, Hart’s son in law, didn’t stop him from causing all this damage.

FWC is also still trying to assess all the damage that Hart caused during the accident.

In a surprising bit of trivia, the boat that was used in the crime was featured in the show ‘Catching Hell’ on The Weather Channel.


We’ll have the latest on the investigation tonight at 5. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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