Emergency response teams and wildlife officials were dispatched to Lake Panasoffkee in Sumter County early Tuesday morning in order to rescue fifteen people aboard an airboat after it suffered a mechanical failure and crashed into a cypress knee that was partially submerged in the water.
At approximately 10:30 a.m., Sumter County Fire Rescue and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission both received emergency calls in regards to an airboat accident on Lake Panasoffkee. They arrived on the scene to find 14 of the 15 boat riders harmed in the crash, nine of which required additional treatment for their injuries, two being critical & three listed as serious. The boating accident victims were transported to local hospitals, who had already been made aware of the potential mass injury/casualty situation.
Authorities pulled the boat out of the water for investigation around 2 p.m. It was at this time that they discovered front-end bumper damage to the vessel. According to a local news outlet, Kim Peeler, manager of Tom and Jerry’s Airboat Rides (where the boat is from), stated that the accident was likely due a broken steering cable, not driver error. Once this breaks, it is almost impossible to steer a boat. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families,” she said. The owners of the business could not be reached for comment, but Peeler said that the boat had passed a previous inspection by the U.S. Coast Guard, who will be conducting their own additional investigation into this incident.
Accidents involving airboats of this type, which features stadium-seating for its riders, are pretty infrequent due to the fact that they’re typically travelling at low speeds, primarily designated for tours and sightseeing. Most boating accidents in Florida are centered around jetskis and speed boats, vessels designed to push the envelope and reach greater speeds.
Here at the Law Offices of James O. Cunningham, P.A., we are unfortunately all too familiar with the different types of Florida boating accidents and the injuries associated with them. If you or a loved one have been injured, contact us today at 877-FL-INJURY to schedule a free initial consultation.
James O. Cunningham
Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.
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