The widow of a man killed in a boating accident has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a pair of federal agencies, claiming they failed to maintain safety measures that could have prevented the incident.


Edward Barnett died in July 2018 after the boat he was operating hit a contraction dike in the Cooper River near the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in North Charleston. Another person suffered a leg injury during the nighttime crash.

Penny Jo Barnett alleges in the lawsuit that the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Coast Guard failed to ensure navigation lights on the dike were working properly when the boat her husband was in hit the structure.

“At the time of the (accident), the dike was not visible to an approaching boater,” the lawsuit states, adding the federal agencies knew the lights weren’t working but failed to fix them.

Neither agency has filed a response to the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Charleston. A spokesman for the Army Corps said the agency does not comment on pending litigation. A Coast Guard spokesman did not respond to a request for comment. No court date has been set.

The accident occurred at about 11:34 p.m. on July 6, 2018, and involved a 24-foot vessel called Miss June, according to a Coast Guard report.

Penny Jo Barnett is seeking an unspecified amount of actual and punitive damages as well as court costs and attorney fees. Barnett is being represented by lawyers Brooklyn O’Shea and Christopher McCool.