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Tampa lawyer dies in boating crash

Published Aug. 5, 2014

TAMPA — A prominent Tampa lawyer died in a boating accident last week while on a lobstering trip in Key West.

Mary Taylor, 68, who practiced civil law at her own firm, was one of two women who jumped off a 44-foot catamaran when they spotted a large sportfishing boat racing toward them, said Capt. David Dipre of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The boat tried to avoid hitting the catamaran anchored about two miles north of Key West, but it was too late, Dipre said.

"When it made a minor course correction, it struck the people in the water," he said.

Both Taylor and Paula MacKay of Austin, Texas, were airlifted by the U.S. Coast Guard to the Lower Keys Medical Center in Key West. Taylor was declared dead there. MacKay was last reported to be in stable condition.

The driver of the sportfishing boat, Richard Perez of Tampa, could face criminal charges, Dipre said. An investigation is ongoing.

Taylor lived in Clearwater Beach with her husband, William Taylor, a veteran lawyer at MacFarlane, Ferguson and McMullen, P.A.

The Taylors often traveled to the Keys for Lobsterfest ­— a celebration of the start of lobster season that attracts thousands of people, said David Boggs, a family friend and partner at MacFarlane, Ferguson.

Always smiling, Taylor was a pleasant person who made a point of asking how people were doing, said Robert Foster, a Circuit Court judge in Hillsborough County. Taylor argued in his courtroom just last month. "When Mary Taylor was on the other side, you better be ready," Foster said.

When she wasn't practicing law, Taylor loved spending time with her three daughters, Gwen, Ashley and Brett, and granddaughter, Alexis, Boggs said.

The last time he saw Mary, Boggs said, was at her daughter's wedding in the spring. He remembers joking about her brightly colored cowboy boots.

Now, cowboy boots will always remind him of her, he said.

"It's absolutely mind-boggling," Boggs said. "Mary was in great health, she had so much to look forward to. This wasn't her first time on the water.

"However this went down, this is just not right."

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Contact Liz Crampton at ecrampton@tampabay.com or (813)-226-3401. Follow her @liz_crampton.

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