Mission Bay

Family of girl killed after getting hit by jet ski in Mission Bay files wrongful death lawsuit

The victim was on a paddle board in the De Anza Cove area when she was struck by the watercraft. She was taken to a hospital, where she died of injuries that included blunt force trauma to the head

The family of a 12-year-old girl who was fatally struck by a jet ski in Mission Bay last year has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the watercraft's operator, as well as the city and county of San Diego, among others.

The lawsuit stems from the July 29, 2023, crash that killed a girl identified in court documents only as Savannah P.

The victim was on a paddle board in the De Anza Cove area when she was struck by the watercraft at around 2 p.m. She was taken to a hospital, where she died of injuries that included blunt force trauma to the head.

Her family's lawsuit filed in San Diego Superior Court faults not only the alleged jet ski operator, Arsanyous Refat Ghaly, but also city lifeguards for allowing Ghaly "to operate the jet ski at an excessive rate of speed and out of control in the direction of Decedent until the Incident occurred."

The complaint alleges lifeguards saw Ghaly and others in his friend group operate jet skis at high speeds and warned them to slow down. However, the lawsuit alleges no further monitoring of the riders was conducted and less than 10 minutes later, the girl was struck.

The complaint alleges "lifeguards and other personnel charged with working to keep Mission Bay safe" were not properly trained or supervised.

Along with Ghaly and the city and county, the suit names several others as defendants, including two people who allegedly rented out the jet ski to Ghaly and his friends. The complaint alleges the jet ski was unlawfully provided to Ghaly and his friends, who lacked California Boater's cards, which are required for people operating motorized vessels in the water.

The complaint also states that the website OfferUp was used to rent out the jet ski, and OfferUp is also listed as a defendant for allegedly allowing "its users to facilitate the unlawful, unlicensed, and/or otherwise dangerous use of rental equipment."

In July of 2023, a 12-year-old was killed on Mission Bay by a teen on a jet ski. NBC 7's Allison Ash was in the courtroom for the preliminary hearing in this case, where the teen now faces charges that claim his recklessness and excessive speed were to blame.

In a statement, the family wrote, "Our daughter was a bright, healthy 12-year-old who loved her family, her friends, playing soccer, and dreaming of her future. She is a light in our lives, and our hearts continue to break every day since we lost her. Her death was a senseless, preventable tragedy for our family, including her younger brother, and for our community. We are focused on making sure no other family is forced to endure the loss we live with every day. We filed this lawsuit to hold people and entities accountable, to create and maintain safe places, and to follow and enforce the laws that are meant to protect us all.  We are unwavering in our commitment to make Mission Bay a safe place for families and will work to ensure that this preventable tragedy spurs the change necessary to reach that goal."

Ghaly, who was 18 years old at the time, was arrested last November in connection with the fatality. He is charged with a felony count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and his trial remains pending.

At a preliminary hearing held earlier this month, a police officer testified that data pulled from the jet ski indicated it was traveling between 47 and 53 mph at the time of the collision.

While prosecutors allege the crash occurred in an area where watercraft operators are required to stay below 5 mph, Ghaly's defense attorney disputed that contention and argued a marine surveyor measured the location of the crash at about 50 feet beyond where watercraft must operate at slow speeds.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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