Monday, December 18, 2017
Public safety

Rescuers find 'chaotic' scene at deadly Miami boat accident

MIAMI — The fireworks in Miami had just concluded when a white, 32-foot boat carrying five young adults crashed violently with another vessel in the night.

The boat's operator was thrown overboard. Another passenger was tossed into the water, and two others were 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 to a stop.

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

That was the account investigators detailed Sunday, two days after the deadly Fourth of July crash.

"I can tell you, based on the officers on scene, it was one of the most chaotic scenes that they have ever been involved in," said Jorge Pino, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Authorities identified the victims as: 23-year-old Andrew Garcia, 20-year-old Victoria Dempsey, and 24-year-old Kelsie Karpiak, all from Miami and on the first boat. Jason Soleimani, 23, of Old Westbury, New York, was on the second vessel and was killed immediately.

The crash happened about 10:45 p.m. Friday, as hundreds of boats were in the waters of Biscayne Bay, admiring the fireworks along Miami's gleaming skyline.

Pino said the minute the fireworks conclude boaters typically rush toward Dinner Key Marina, hoping to get their boat out of the water first.

"So you have hundreds of vessels moving at one time, in the dark, which is a recipe for disaster," he said.

It's still unknown 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 thrown in 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, 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.

Garcia — believed to be the operator of the first boat — and Dempsey, both thrown overboard, were found dead on Saturday. Pino said no charges have been filed, though the investigation remains ongoing.

Comments

Deputies seek suspects who fired shots into crowded Northdale nightclub

TAMPA — Hillsborough County deputies are searching for the suspects who fired shots inside a crowded nightclub in Northdale early Monday morning.According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, deputies patrolling the area heard shooting coming...
Updated: 10 minutes ago

Land O’Lakes teacher charged with felony child abuse

LAND O’LAKES — A special needs teacher at Oakstead Elementary School was arrested and charged with felony child abuse after she struck and kicked a 15-year-old child in her care over the weekend, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said.Christine Ketel...
Updated: 15 minutes ago

St. Pete woman killed in crash while trying to avoid dog on I-275

TAMPA — A St. Pete Beach woman was killed Monday morning on Interstate 275 when she was struck from behind by a semi-trailer while attempting to avoid striking a dog that had run onto the highway.The crash occurred around 10:45 a.m. on I-275, north o...
Updated: 25 minutes ago
Multiple fatalities as Amtrak train derails south of Seattle

Multiple fatalities as Amtrak train derails south of Seattle

TACOMA, Wash. — An Amtrak train derailed south of Seattle on Monday, spilling train cars onto a busy interstate and authorities reported "multiple fatalities."The train derailed about 40 miles (64 kilometers) south of Seattle before 8 a.m.Amtrak says...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Police: Woman killed in Clearwater drive-by shooting while daughter, 10, in back seat

Police: Woman killed in Clearwater drive-by shooting while daughter, 10, in back seat

CLEARWATER — A Palm Harbor woman was killed in a drive-by shooting while riding with her husband and 10-year-old daughter in a Nissan Sentra late Sunday, police said.Elizabeth Rosado, 30, was in the front passenger seat of the sedan, which was headed...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Portion of Lutz Lake Fern Road closed after crash involving motorcycle

TAMPA — A portion of Lutz Lake Fern Road is closed in northwest Hillsborough County following a crash involving a motorcycleHillsborough County deputies say the roadway is expected to be closed between Sunlake Boulevard and Cypress Green Drive for th...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Missing Child Alert canceled for Homestead boy, 13

A Florida Missing Child Alert has been canceled for a 13-year-old Homestead boy.According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, John Noble-Sinclair had last seen Sunday in the area of 300 block of Southwest 4th Avenue.The case has been resolv...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Hudson woman killed in Pasco motorcycle crash

A Hudson woman was killed Saturday night in Pasco County when the motorcycle she was a passenger on struck a truck.According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Patrick McKinney, 29 and of Hudson, was driving his 2003 Kawasaki motorcycle southbound on U.S...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Search continues for suspect in fatal Clearwater drive-shooting

CLEARWATER — Police continue to search for the suspect after a woman was killed Sunday night in a drive-by shooting.Authorities said the shooting occurred around 8:15 p.m. in the 1500 block of Scranton Avenue.An unidentified 30-year-old woman was kil...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Wesley Chapel woman, 28, dies after crashing motorcycle

LUTZ — A 28-year-old motorcyclist died Sunday after she crashed near Lutz Lake Fern Road and Apian Way, Hillsborough deputies reported.Erica Kristen Rodriguez of Wesley Chapel was riding a Kawasaki motorcycle with a small group of motorcyclists eastb...
Published: 12/17/17