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Authorities: Water scooter passenger killed after pilot strikes slow sign

INDIAN ROCKS BEACH — A 40-year-old Indian Rocks Beach man who died while riding a personal watercraft Saturday night crashed and fell into the water after the driver hit a slow sign, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman said.

Victor Vazquez was a passenger on a watercraft piloted by Robert W. Turnbull, 34, also of Indian Rocks Beach. At about 8:30 p.m., Turnbull struck a slow sign in the Intracoastal Waterway just north of the Belleair Causeway, according to spokesman Gary Morse.

Both were thrown from the craft.

Turnbull found Vazquez unconscious after the crash and headed to shore. Efforts to revive him failed.

Turnbull sustained minor injuries. Both men were wearing life jackets.

The two were riding on a water scooter well after the sun had gone down — which is prohibited by state law. Florida law prohibits piloting a personal watercraft from half an hour after sunset to half an hour before sunrise.

The Saturday night crash is at least the second personal watercraft fatality so far this year in the Tampa Bay area to happen after dark. A Lutz man was killed and a woman injured in late January when two personal watercrafts collided around 3 a.m. on Lake Hobbs in northern Hillsborough County.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the time frame when boaters aboard personal watercraft are prohibited from being on the water.

Authorities: Water scooter passenger killed after pilot strikes slow sign 03/12/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 3:41pm]
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