Monday, July 7, 2014

Florida: Update: Four Killed, Six Injured, One Critically, in Boat Collision in Miami

According to Komo News, the July 4 fireworks in Miami had just concluded when a white, 32-foot boat carrying five young adults crashed violently with another vessel in the darkness.

The first boat's pilot was thrown overboard. Another passenger was tossed into the water, and two others left critically injured and unconscious.   

With no one at the helm, the boat circled in the dark, crashing into a third vessel before a commercial salvage crew was able to pull up alongside it, jump aboard and bring it under control.   

When the waters eventually calmed, rescuers struggled through the dark to piece together a devastating toll: Four dead; at least eight injured.   

COMMENT: Authorities identified the victims as: 

FIRST BOAT 

Killed: 23-year-old Andrew Garcia, 20-year-old Victoria Dempsey, and 24-year-old Kelsie Karpiak, all from Miami.

SECOND BOAT 

Killed: Jason Soleimani, 23, of Old Westbury, NY. 

The collision occurred at 2245 hours on July 4.

It's still unknown as to what speeds the boats were traveling at, but investigators say the second vessel was hit with such force that a hole was left in its side. 


Eight people were on board the 36-foot-long fiberglass vessel, including a 2-year-old girl. In addition to Soleimani, six people were injured and hospitalized, one in critical condition. The toddler and another child were not injured.  

Meanwhile, the first vessel continued on, its captain was thrown into the water, striking a 35-foot Boston Whaler with nine people on board. Only one sustained minor injuries.  

Capt. Burt Korpela of Atlantis Marine Towing and Salvage was one of the first on the scene, responding to a distress call. He encountered a horrific sight: The first boat, still spinning out of control. 

"The boat was running out of control in circles 20 to 25 miles per hour with limited lights on the boat," Korpela told CBS4. "You've got to jump from one boat to another. It's just the most extreme you can do and this accident was terrible." 

One of the women found unconscious on the boat, Karpiak, was pronounced dead after being taken to the hospital. Another, 24-year-old Kathy Payne, was in critical condition.

This report will be updated as new information becomes available.