CLAY COUNTY, Florida. – A day after a fatal boating accident on Black Creek, the water was calm as the investigation continued.
James Widergren lives next door to where it happened.
“We had just walked out right after the incident. Cops and EMTs were already there next door,” Widegren recounted.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said two people were on board a 20-foot vessel on Tuesday when it struck a large boathouse dock on Black Creek, throwing a woman from the boat.
According to officials, a neighbor saw the passenger in the water, immediately jumped in, pulled her ashore and began performing CPR on her. She did not survive.
Widergren said the layout of Black Creek near Creekside Trail is wide and not a common area for accidents.
“Black Creek has a lot of tight corners and areas that get tighter. This particular area is probably 800 yards straight. It’s very direct. It’s one of the widest parts of the creek, so that particular area wouldn’t be a place where someone would turn blind and get thrown around,” Widegren said.
While the cause of the crash is still under investigation, FWC sent News4JAX a statement with boating safety tips including wearing a life jacket, maintaining a 360 degree awareness degrees and knowledge of the dangers – and penalties – of operating a vessel while impaired.
According to FWC statistics, more than half of all reported boating accidents in 2021 were due to collisions, with 45% of these collisions attributed to operator inattention or poor supervision.
“Certainly be aware of your surroundings. You can never be too careful, but there is no reason to be afraid going up and down Black Creek. It’s very sad and our hearts go out to the lady’s family who lost it,” Widegren said. “But sail it safe and it can be done in fun.”
According to FWC data, in the past three years, 17 shipping accidents and two other fatalities have been reported in Clay County.
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