MIAMI (WSVN) - Rescue crews and a good Samaritan came to the rescue of 14 people after their boat capsized off Biscayne Bay, Sunday evening, sending an 80-year-woman woman to the hospital.
Witnesses described the frightening moments when the vessel began taking on water in a canal, near the corner of Northeast 87th Street and Northeast Bayshore Drive.
Alan Phillips told 7News he saw the boat when it was about to flip. “Everybody’s on the front of the boat … and the water is going in,” he said.
Fire officials said the group was entering the inlet when they hit a wave, forcing the boat to capsize and sending the boaters, including children, into the water.
Shortly after the vessel overturned, onlookers took out their cellphones and began to record the tense scene. “Oh, my God, they are drowning. Oh, my God,” a woman is heard saying in the video.
Phillips then called for his friend Ron Stamey. “I immediately got my kayak, I put it in the water, and I went to them to help,” said Stamey.
The good Samaritan reached the vessel and began rendering aid to the victims. “My mind was, ‘How do I help these people to get out of the water?'”
Stamey ended up pulling four boaters to safety.
Miami Fire Rescue arrived at the scene, and first responders quickly realized a woman was trapped under the water. By the time she was pulled out, she didn’t have a pulse and wasn’t breathing.
Paramedics got to work as witness Jorge Arvile looked on. “She was in the backyard, and they were trying to resuscitate her, I believe,” he said. “At that point, the police came and pulled us all out.”
The boat, which is registered to Misael Gonzalez, was towed just before 11 a.m., Monday.
Neighbors said this is a heavily trafficked boat area off the bay, and they’ve rarely seen an accident this bad. “To see a boat tipped over is very unusual,” said David Kahn. “It’s usually like overloaded boats, unsafe. Something like that.”
The elderly woman, later identified as Lidia Tapanes, was transported to North Shore Medical Center in unknown condition.
Witnesses told 7News they did not see any of the boaters wearing life jackets.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating.
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