Man dies in boating accident near Pelican Harbor

A Hialeah man became the seventh person to die in a boating accident so far this year in Miami-Dade. His small jet boat collided with a dock and seawall Sunday near Pelican Harbor.

08/04/2014 3:07 PM

08/04/2014 4:31 PM

A Hialeah family spent Monday planning the funeral for a father of four girls, who died Sunday when he lost control of his jet boat near Pelican Harbor.

Jose Daniel Napoles was ferrying people between the marina and a small island nearby when he hit the dock on the island, said Jorge Pino, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The wayward boat then took off speeding and slammed into the seawall near the marina near the 79th Street Causeway. Napoles, who was the only one on the vessel at the time, was thrown from the boat. Divers found him on the bottom of Biscayne Bay, Pino said.

“It was a really violent crash,” said Pino. Investigators were looking into whether speed or alcohol played a role in the accident, he said. “Now the important thing is to figure out what caused the crash.”

Napoles was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he died.

Pino said several of Napoles’ family members, none of whom would comment Monday, saw the crash.

Napoles is the seventh person so far this year to die in a boating accident in Miami-Dade County.

Last year, Miami-Dade had four fatalities for the entire year, according to the Fish and Wildlife Commission. There were 104 boating accidents and 50 injuries.

Pino said the number of fatalities this year is skewed because of the July 4 accident in which four people died. About 10 p.m., just after a fireworks show concluded, a 32-foot Contender center-console boat T-boned a 36-foot Carrera and also struck a Boston Whaler. The impact killed Andrew Garcia, who was piloting the Contender; his passengers Kelsie Karpiak, 24, and Victoria Dempsey, 20; and Jason Soleimani, 23, who was aboard the Carrera. The investigation of that accident is continuing.

The other fatal boating accidents this year in Miami-Dade:

• On May 5, Ernesto Hernandez, 23, died when he tried to push South Florida radio personality DJ Laz’s boat off a sandbar behind Key Biscayne’s old Nixon estate. The family has since sued DJ Laz and Miami rapper Pitbull’s vodka brand, Voli Spirits .
• On May 26, a boat slammed into another boat that was anchored near Elliott Key. The crash killed Giovanna Santos, 37, and injured two others.

Pino said boating accidents boil down to personal responsibility, whether it involves alcohol or drug consumption, speed or just carelessness.

“People should not have to die for other people to decide they are going to be a responsible boater,” Pino said.

Miami Herald news partner CBS4 contributed to this report.

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