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. LaVar Ball appears at WWE event, son LaMelo uses slur

    Blogs

    LOS ANGELES  -- LaVar Ball has brought his Big Baller Brand from the basketball court to the wrestling ring. 
    The outspoken father of NBA Draft No. 2 pick Lonzo Ball showed up with the newly-minted Los Angeles Laker and another son, 15-year-old son LaMelo, for a live segment on Monday's "WWE …

    LaVar Ball took off his shirt during a WWE broadcast.
  2. Facing defections, Senate GOP leaders delay health care vote

    National

    WASHINGTON — In a bruising setback, Senate Republican leaders are delaying a vote on their prized health care bill until after the July 4 recess, forced to retreat by a GOP rebellion that left them lacking enough votes to even begin debating the legislation, two sources said Tuesday.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., center, talks with his chief of staff Sharon Soderstrom, right, and communications staff director Antonia Ferrier, left, as they walk to his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, June 26, 2017. Senate Republicans unveil a revised health care bill in hopes of securing support from wavering GOP lawmakers, including one who calls the drive to whip his party's bill through the Senate this week "a little offensive." [Associated Press]
  3. U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and estranged wife Carole put Beach Drive condo on the market

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and his estranged wife, Carole, have put their Beach Drive condo on the market for $1.5 million.

    Former Florida Gov. and current U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and his estranged wife, Carole, have put their condo in downtown St. Petersburg on the market for $1.5 million. [Courtesy of Rhonda Sanderford]
  4. Florida man sits in jail 90 days when drywall powder is mistaken for cocaine (w/video)

    Crime

    OVIEDO — A Florida man spent 90 days in jail after police officers who stopped him for driving without headlights said white powder found in his car was cocaine.

    Karlos Cashe spent 90 days in jail after Oviedo police officers who stopped him for driving without headlights said white powder found in his car was cocaine. But he walked out of jail last week after lab results determined the powder in the handyman's car was actually drywall. [Photo from video] 

  5. Cal Foote said it's 'starting to feel more real'

    Blogs

    Cal Foote was picked 14th overall by the Lightning in the NHL Draft.