JULY 4TH TRAGEDY

Investigation into 4th of July fatal boat crash continues

 

scocking@MiamiHerald.com

A team of investigators with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on Wednesday combed the three boats involved in the deadly Fourth of July accident on Biscayne Bay, photographing and documenting physical evidence that could help piece together how four people died and several others were critically injured following a holiday fireworks display. The boats are impounded at the agency’s North Miami office.

Meanwhile, the Miami-Dade County medical examiner’s office confirmed autopsies have been completed on three of the victims: 23-year-old Andrew Garcia who was piloting the 32-foot Contender center-console that T-boned a 36-foot Carrera and also struck a Boston Whaler, and his two passengers, Kelsie Karpiak, 24, and Victoria Dempsey, 20. The body of Jason Soleimani, 23, who was aboard the Carrera, has been released to his family in New York.

Larry Cameron, operations director at the medical examiner’s office, declined to release the causes of death because of the active FWC investigation.

FWC spokesman Jorge Pino said Monday there was evidence of alcohol on board the Contender. He said his agency’s investigators must also examine other physical evidence, including the extent of damage, the vessels’ lights and instrument panels and personal belongings on board. U.S. Coast Guard personnel will analyze information from the vessels’ GPS units, which trace their paths through the bay. No arrests have been made.

“This is a homicide investigation,” Pino said. “It is tedious, lengthy and detailed. Innocent lives were lost and someone was responsible for that. What we need to figure out is who is responsible for causing this accident.”

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