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Mother of teen lost at sea files suit

The mother of a teenager lost at sea more than a year ago is suing the boat's pilot and the other person aboard, her ex-husband, accusing them of negligence.

Neil Alan Eddleman, 13, and his father, Neil Wayne Eddleman, 48, were never found during an air-and-sea search in the Gulf of Mexico for their boat, the What's Left, after they departed the Naples area on a fishing trip on Oct. 17, 2003.

The damaged boat washed ashore Nov. 3, 2003, at Cape Canaveral, 450 miles from Naples on the other side of the state. The body of boat pilot Gary Lee Lisk, 61, was found onboard. An autopsy could not determine a cause of death because of decomposition.

The lawsuit filed Dec. 22 in Collier Circuit Court by Karen Eddleman claims Lisk and her ex-husband were negligent in taking the boat out in inclement weather. Weather reports were readily available showing that conditions "would grow worse over the next 12 hours," the suit claims.

The lawsuit recognizes the father and son never were found, but it does says the boat's damaged condition suggests "great bodily injury and possible death to the occupants."

"Despite a thorough investigation by the Naples police department and other agencies into the boating accident, no evidence has turned up to suggest that Neil Wayne Eddleman or Neil Alan Eddleman is alive," the suit says.

Attorney David F. Garber, representing Karen Eddleman, said Tuesday there is evidence that the boat was rendered unseaworthy when it struck a hard object.