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KEY WEST, June 19, 2019 – A former Key West boater has been sentenced to more than a decade in Florida State Prison for causing the death of his wife, who died after she was tossed from a boat he operated while drunk.
Robert Everson, 64, pleaded no contest to boating under the influence-manslaughter enhanced in the 2012 death of his wife, Wendy Everson, who was 62. On June 14, Monroe County Circuit Court Judge Mark Jones handed down a sentence of 124.5 months, or just under 10 and a half years, in prison, to be followed by four years of drug-offender probation. Assistant State Attorneys Christina Cory and Christine Poist represented the state.
Wendy Everson died at a Miami hospital on July 24, 2012, due to “submersion in water,” a medical examiner wrote in a report.
A judge signed a warrant for Robert Everson’s arrest and he was arrested at a Key West Harbor dock on September 27, 2012. He posted bond the following day and was released from jail. Shortly after his release, while his case was making its way through the court system, Everson absconded. He was located in Indiana in March of 2018 and transported back to Monroe County to resolve the case.
The afternoon of July 15, 2012, the Eversons were on their dinghy in Key West Harbor heading to their sailboat after spending time on land. They were tossed into the water when, Robert Everson told a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer, he “tried to surf the wake” of a passing vessel. He reportedly told the FWC “it’s my fault” the dinghy flipped.
A crewman on a U.S. Coast Guard boat told the FWC that the vessel was about 100 yards from the Coast Guard piers when the coxswain looked back and saw the dinghy running in circles. The boat changed course to the direction of the dinghy and the coxswain saw Robert Everson in the water; by then, the dinghy engine shut off.
When the Coast Guard crew got to the dinghy, Robert Everson yelled to them to help his wife at the dinghy’s stern. The crew saw Wendy Everson in the water bleeding from her head, then she “appeared to lose consciousness and sink below the surface.” A crewman jumped into the water to get Wendy, whose clothing was stuck in the dinghy’s prop, but “had to stop his efforts as [Robert Everson] swam over and climbed on his back attempting to pull the crewman away.” Ultimately, the crewman was able to cut Wendy Everson’s clothing from the prop and she was taken aboard the Coast Guard vessel, as was Richard.
Both were transported to Lower Keys Medical Center and as Wendy Everson was being treated before being airlifted to Ryder Trauma Center in Miami, FWC officers questioned Richard, who fell asleep twice while writing out a statement describing what happened. Believing he was intoxicated, the FWC obtained a blood sample from him. The sample was sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab and the FDLE reported his blood alcohol content was .257 percent; in Florida, .08 percent is considered legally drunk.