What should have been a day of fun turned to disaster Thursday just before noon when a 50-foot powerboat heading south on the bayside of Marathon flipped over, injuring four.
One man was airlifted to a Miami hospital via the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Trauma Star air ambulance and three other passengers were taken to Fishermen’s Community Hospital in Marathon for treatment after the single-boat accident, said Capt. Dave Dipre with the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The crash happened about a quarter mile offshore near the 33rd Street boat ramp, mile marker 48.5, and “people were seriously injured,” Dipre said.
The brand-new powerboat made by Rhode Island-based manufacturer Outerlimits was reportedly part of the Florida Powerboat Club’s annual poker run, with boats cruising 180 miles from Miami to Key West through the “winding backwaters” of the Keys, according to the club’s website. The trip ends in Key West for the 37th annual Key West Super Boat International World Championship, happening through Sunday.
An Outerlimits employee who declined to be named said another Outerlimits employee was on the boat along with three friends. He did not clarify whether they were riding with the poker run, but said the boat was headed to Key West for display during race weekend.
“This boat is related to the boat races. It appears it went out of control and flipped,” Dipre said. “I can’t tell what kind it is or how long because it’s flipped over in the water.”
Powerboats are as aerodynamic as they are hydrodynamic, he said.
“The only thing in the water many times is the prop and the lower part of the unit on the motor, and they’re going so fast they’re flying along the top of the water. If you get any gust of wind or a chop of a wave that pushes your bow up, it pushes your aerodynamics off,” he said. “He could have snagged on something, the waves could have rolled the boat — there are a whole lot of variables we don’t know.”
Dipre said the FWC will investigate what happened with data from the boat’s GPS system and motor.
The three passengers with less-severe injuries were later taken to Mariners Hospital in Tavernier, said Monroe County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Deputy Becky Herrin.
Katie Atkins: 305-440-3219