A Marion County woman was critically injured Saturday afternoon when her husband lost control of his water scooter and accidentally struck her and his niece off the Hernando County coast.
Thomas Eugene Thompson Jr. of Citra ran over his wife, Lillie Fay Thompson, 44, and Diana L. DeLuca, 8, of Brooksville as they frolicked in the water near Fiddlers Point, an island a mile south of Bayport Park, according to officers at the scene.
Mrs. Thompson sustained neck injuries and told rescue workers she was paralyzed before losing consciousness. She was flown by helicopter to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, where she was listed in critical condition Saturday evening.
Diana DeLuca suffered minor injuries and was transported to Oak Hill Hospital in stable condition. She was treated and released Saturday afternoon.
"I tried to turn it. . . . I tried to shut it off," said a distraught Thomas Thompson, 44, shortly before leaving for St. Joseph's.
The Thompsons and several family members and friends had gathered on the island for a picnic. Thompson was returning to shore to pick up a friend on a red and white Tigershark when he lost control of the water scooter and ran over his wife and the girl a little after 1 p.m., state marine enforcement officials said.
"There was no evidence that we could see that alcohol was involved, no evidence that he had been drinking," said Officer Jack Angelis.
Rescue efforts were hampered somewhat by the location of the accident, more than a mile offshore. Rescue workers borrowed a neighbor's boat to bring the woman and girl to Bayport Park.
The channels around Fiddlers Point, a 2-acre private island, are usually crowded on weekends, said sheriff's Deputy Roger Butts, who patrols the county's waterways. Fiddlers Point is popular with boaters because of its close proximity to Bayport Park, which is one of the county's four public boat ramps.