Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Water scooter collided 'dead center' with tour boat off Clearwater

After Saturday’s crash, investigators temporarily impounded the Tropics Boat Tours vessel in Clearwater and combed it for clues.

CHRIS ZUPPA | Times

After Saturday’s crash, investigators temporarily impounded the Tropics Boat Tours vessel in Clearwater and combed it for clues.

CLEARWATER — Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission investigators were working Sunday to figure out just what led to a crash that killed two people on a water scooter when it collided with a tour boat.

The crash happened about 6:10 p.m. Saturday near the Clearwater Memorial Causeway Bridge when the rented watercraft struck a double-deck tour boat that was on a dolphin-sighting excursion.

Commission spokesman Baryl Martin identified the water scooter's driver as Ramana Gadiraju, 50, and the passenger as Shubhada Kulkarni, 49, both of Lower Gwynedd, Pa. The couple, who have a son, were in town on business and vacation, he said.

The cruise company, Tropics Boat Tours, said on its Facebook page Sunday that it "extends … heartfelt thoughts and prayers to all the family members, passengers and crew affected by the tragic accident that occurred yesterday." The company said in its message that it had canceled all Sunday cruises — out of respect for the dead, owner Trisha Rodriguez said the night before — and would resume regular operations today.

Authorities said none of the 70 to 80 passengers aboard the tour company's only vessel was injured.

Martin said investigators on Sunday morning had temporarily impounded the tour boat as they took photographs and combed the vessel for clues.

Based on preliminary information, he said, the 10-foot water scooter was traveling south in the Clearwater channel near Marker 7 and the 59-foot tour boat was traveling north. The scooter struck the "dead center front" of the boat, he said.

The tour boat captain retrieved the victims from the water and attempted CPR, Martin said, but they were later pronounced dead by Clearwater paramedics.

Citing the ongoing investigation, Martin said he could not confirm information from witnesses who said it appeared that the two were trying to outrun the boat in a game of chicken. But he did say the tour boat operator slowed down and put the engine in neutral to try to see what the driver of the personal watercraft was going to do. "There's no determination of fault until the investigation is complete," Martin said.

Staff writer Brittany Alana Davis contributed to this report.

Water scooter collided 'dead center' with tour boat off Clearwater 09/29/13 [Last modified: Sunday, September 29, 2013 7:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rubio praises Trump for 'excellent' speech on Afghanistan

    Blogs

    Sen. Marco Rubio praised President Donald Trump's "excellent" speech on Afghanistan. Sen. Bill Nelson was less effusive but agreed with the goal.

  2. Gov. Rick Scott blasts report of shifting words on Charlottesville

    Blogs

    Gov. Rick Scott, one of the most scripted politicians in modern Florida history, said Monday that ‘both sides” bore blame for Charlottesville.

  3. Record $417 million awarded in lawsuit linking baby powder to cancer

    Nation

    LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles jury on Monday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $417 million to a hospitalized woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene.

    A bottle of Johnson's baby powder is displayed. On Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, a Los Angeles County Superior Court spokeswoman confirmed that a jury has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $417 million in a case to a woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene. [Associated Press]
  4. Search under way for missing sailors; Navy chief orders inquiry

    Military

    SINGAPORE — The U.S. Navy ordered a broad investigation Monday into the performance and readiness of the Pacific-based 7th Fleet after the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters, leaving 10 U.S. sailors missing and others injured.

    Damage is visible as the USS John S. McCain steers toward Singapore’s naval base on Monday.
  5. Told not to look, Donald Trump looks at the solar eclipse

    National

    Of course he looked.

    Monday's solar eclipse — life-giving, eye-threatening, ostensibly apolitical — summoned the nation's First Viewer to the Truman Balcony of the White House around 2:38 p.m. Eastern time.

    The executive metaphor came quickly.

    President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump view the solar eclipse from the Truman balcony of the White House, in Washington, Aug. 21, 2017. [Al Drago | New York Times]