BoatTEST publishes “Accidents of the Week” as a public service for our VIP Subscribers to acquaint them with potential boating dangers and by inference their prevention.
Florida Woman Missing After Yacht Catches Fire
7/26/23 – Monroe Co., FL
A woman was missing after a yacht caught fire in the early hours of the morning on 26 July, in the Florida Keys.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said the 70-foot Viking yacht caught fire around 12:10 a.m. at the Peary Hotel & Marina on Key West’s Stock Island. A 51-year-old woman from St. Petersburg was nowhere to be found in the aftermath of the fire, authorities said.
Deputies said two men, ages 58 and 21, were also on the boat when the fire started. They were both airlifted to a trauma center in Miami. Another family of four that was on board was able to escape the boat uninjured.
The Monroe County Fire Rescue said the boat was fully engulfed when they arrived at the scene. They battled the fire for about three hours. The sheriff’s office said its dive team and TowBoat U.S. crews were searching for the woman in hazardous conditions where the vessel sank in the marina.
The cause of the fire was under investigation.
Kayaker rescued in North Carolina river
7/24/23 – Ronda, NC
A man whose kayak sank was rescued on the Yadkin River and treated for minor injuries on the evening of 24 July, according to the fire department in Ronda, North Carolina.
According to Ronda Fire Chief Zach Key, Michael Motsinger was found in the river at 6:43 p.m. and transported by the department’s Zodiac 32 watercraft unit to an emergency medical services (EMS) unit on standby at a nearby park. Motsinger was treated for minor injuries by EMS workers and refused transportation to Wilkes Medical Center, said Key.
Kayaker not wearing PFD
At 5:47 p.m., the Ronda Fire and EMS officials responded to a missing person call made by Beverly Motsinger, who told officials she and Michael Motsinger were kayaking the Yadkin River when their kayak developed a hole and started to sink.
Beverly Motsinger made it to shore but Michael Motsinger told her he was going to float down the river and find another spot to exit the river, officials were told. Beverly Motsinger told officials she walked about 45 minutes but could not locate Michael Motsinger, who was not wearing a personal flotation device (PFD).
Coast Guard Rescues 11 from Capsized Airboat on Outer Banks
7/26/23 – Outer Banks, NC
The Coast Guard rescued 11 people after their boat capsized on the Outer Banks of North Carolina on 26 July.
A dispatcher in Dare County, North Carolina, contacted US Coast Guard watchstanders around 10:15 a.m. to say the OBX 1, a 20-foot airboat, had capsized west of Oregon Inlet, according to a news release. The dispatcher also said that all the passengers were reported to be wearing life jackets, and the degree of injuries varied.
Two Coast Guard boats and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew from Air Station Elizabeth City were deployed to help the passengers.
When rescue crews arrived, they immediately pulled one person from the water who was pinned under the airboat. That person was suffering from a potential head and chest injury and was taken to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.
Coast Guard crews rescued the remaining ten people from the water. All of them were taken to Station Oregon Inlet, where their care was transferred to EMS personnel. Two of them were reported to be seriously injured.
OBX 1 was towed to Pirates Cove Marina in Manteo, while the Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment in Nags Head launched an investigation into the incident.
Kayaker Drowns in Colorado River
7/22/23 – Grand Junction, CO
A woman drowned in the Colorado River on 22 July, near Palisade, Colorado.
According to the Mesa County Coroner, Peyton Schartner, 30, fell out of her kayak on the river and drowned. She was found unresponsive in the water, according to the coroner. Paramedics performed CPR, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.
The coroner reported that Schartner had a life jacket, but apparently was not wearing it correctly. The coroner said the cause of death was accidental drowning. Schartner was from Grand Junction, Colorado.
Stranded Boater Rescued on Florida Lake
7/26/23 – Marion Co., FL
Several Fire Rescue units in Marion County, Florida, came to the rescue of a boater who was stranded on Lake Weir on 26 July.
Shortly after 5:20 p.m., Marion County Fire Rescue’s (MCFR) Special Operations Boat #82 was dispatched to the Carney Island Recreation and Conservation Area in Ocklawaha. A citizen had called 911 to report that a man in a boat was yelling for help on Lake Weir, according to a social media post from MCFR.
Crew members from MCFR Division 2 were the first to arrive at the boat ramp, and they established command. Moments later, additional units consisting of Tower 2, Engine 30, and Rescue 30 arrived on scene to assist with the rescue.
MCFR stated that Boat 82 was launched, and crews made contact with the stranded man. The crew members were able to return the man and his boat to the dock safely.
Man Survives Going Over Waterfall in Kayak
7/21/23 – Whitley Co., KY
A large rescue operation was conducted after a person reportedly went over the Cumberland Falls in Kentucky.
Deputies reported the person was spotted by people below going over the falls in a kayak on the evening of 21 July. Park rangers and deputies were joined in the rescue efforts by Whitley County EMS, local fire and rescue, and other people at the park.
Officials warn of dangerous rocks, undertow
“They located him over the first overlook and moved him to the beach area. Received first aid at the beach,” Larry Center with Whitley County Emergency Management said. Whitley County Emergency Management officials said the man was with a group of other kayakers when, for an undisclosed reason, he went over the falls.
They said the man was alert and talking but did sustain “suspected undisclosed injuries.” However, it was reported he was not seriously hurt and was taken to an area hospital to get checked out. “He was talking. That’s the main thing. He wanted a cigarette,” said Center. “But, other than that, he didn’t say a whole lot.”
Emergency officials said there are a lot of dangers with rocks below the falls and an undertow that can hold a person underwater. The sheriff’s office said it is against the law to go over the falls and it puts first responders in danger when they have to rescue people that do. It was not yet clear whether the man would face any charges.
Coast Guard Rescues Boaters from Grounded Vessel Off Louisiana
7/23/23 – New Orleans, LA
The Coast Guard rescued seven boaters on 23 July from their grounded vessel in North Breton Island, Louisiana.
Sector New Orleans watchstanders received a report of a 30-foot center console vessel aground with seven people aboard at approximately 5:45 p.m. on 22 July. Watchstanders coordinated the launch of a Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew to assist.
The aircrew arrived on scene, hoisted the boaters onto the helicopter and transferred them to New Orleans Lakefront Airport. No injuries were reported.
Diver Hospitalized After Being Struck by Police Boat
7/26/23 – Miami, FL
A diver was hospitalized after being struck by a Miami-Dade Police Department boat on the afternoon of 26 July.
The incident happened around 2 p.m. offshore of Boca Chita Key, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials said. The victim, whose identity was not released, was airlifted to a local hospital for treatment for their injuries. Their exact condition was unknown.
Parts of the rescue were captured on radio scanner transmissions: “Approximately 40-years-old. He’s got a laceration to his left heel. He’s got a laceration to his…I’m sorry, his right heel, his right arm and to his buttocks," a man said in one of the calls. “He was going to Boca Chita and it was a propeller hit. We’re going to need an air rescue too," another caller said.
Few other details were released, including whether the victim had a dive flag or if they were in the water as part of lobster mini-season, which began on 26 July.