Daughters file civil lawsuit after mother killed in Atlantic City boating crash

Officials say the boat's operator was 53-year-old Jeffrey Jastrzembski from Atlantic City.

Katie Katro Image
Monday, May 13, 2024
Daughters file civil lawsuit after mother killed in Atlantic City boating crash
Daughters file civil lawsuit after mother killed in Atlantic City boating crash

ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey (WPVI) -- With another summer season at the Jersey shore fast approaching, one family is speaking out about the dangers of boating while under the influence.

Now, the South Jersey family is filing a civil wrongful death lawsuit after their mother, 79-year-old Norma Michaels, was struck and killed by a boater last August.

It happened as Michaels was swimming off the dock of her second home on Boulevard Avenue in Atlantic City, investigators say.

79-year-old Norma Michaels
79-year-old Norma Michaels

"My mother was my best friend, and I was robbed of the opportunity to have an ongoing relationship with my best friend," said Hope Cohen, Michaels' daughter.

Officials say the boat's operator was 53-year-old Jeffrey Jastrzembski from Atlantic City.

According to authorities, Jastrzembski was traveling at a high rate of speed and had been drinking when he allegedly struck Michaels.

"We would like to believe that maybe we could save a life by bringing some awareness to the fact that boating and drinking do not mix," said Cohen.

Jastrzembski had a blood alcohol content of at least .19 at the time of the crash, according to prosecutors.

With Mother's Day weekend behind us and Memorial Day Weekend ahead, Cohen and her sisters are sharing this story to bring justice to their late mother and to help save lives.

"The choice that the defendant made to our mother, yesterday was Mother's Day and nine months since he took her from us," said Lori Kushner, Michaels' daughter.

In March, Jastrzembski was indicted for first-degree aggravated manslaughter.

On Monday, Michaels' three daughters gathered at the dock to announce the civil lawsuit, filed on behalf of their mother, while the criminal case plays out.

"This was her little slice of heaven," said Cristy Michaels, Michaels' daughter.

Michaels' friend Jacqui Carole gathered with the daughters. She says she was swimming with Michaels the day the crash happened.

"I heard the roar of the engine and the folks on the dock yelling, 'Stop! Stop! Slow down,'" said Carole.

The wrongful death lawsuit filed Monday seeks damages.