June 10, 2013 -- Investigators said today that charges could be forthcoming in the two-boat collision in the Florida Keys that flung passengers into the water and sent nine people to the hospital.
The crash happened around 6:30 p.m. Sunday near Sands Cut, a popular sandbar area near Elliott Key, Fla., said Officer Jorge Pino, spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which is spearheading the investigation.
A 36-foot Carrera carrying 16 passengers was struck by a 28-foot vessel carrying two people, Pino said, throwing at least a dozen people into the water. The 28-foot vessel capsized after the collision.
Of the nine people taken to the hospital, one person was hoisted from the water by a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue helicopter. Pino said the passenger was the most seriously injured of the group and appeared to have suffered a leg injury and a possible concussion.
All the victims were believed to be adults, Pino said.
While the cause of the crash is under investigation, Pino said authorities conducted a field sobriety test on both boat captains at the scene and said "nothing would indicate" that alcohol had been a factor in the crash.
Because the extent of the injuries were "minor to moderate," including "lacerations and pulled muscles," Pino said a blood alcohol test was not warranted.
But charges could be forthcoming, he said, if authorities determine that either captain violated boating rules on Florida's waterways.
"Whenever there is an accident on Florida's waterways its incumbent upon both captains of the respective vessels to maintain a proper lookout," Pino said.
While all the injured are expected to recover, Pino said they were "very fortunate" the collision was not more serious.
"We start to see that the warmer it gets, the more active our waters get. We have thousands and thousands of boaters on the waterways on any given weekend. We want them to enjoy themselves," he said.
"But it's also somewhat concerning because we brace ourselves for something like what happened this Sunday."