FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Crews came to the rescue of two Florida International University researchers after they were ejected from their airboat in the Florida Everglades.
Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue units arrived to the scene in the area of mile marker 42, south of Alligator Alley in West Broward, about eight miles east from the Collier County line, Wednesday afternoon.
According to officials, the two women were gathering vegetation samples for a research project when their airboat malfunctioned.
After the boat gave out, officials said, the researchers tried to determine what was wrong with it.
“While they were investigating the maintenance issue with their airboat, the airboat suddenly took off, ejecting both passengers into the water,” said BSFR Battalion Chief Michael Kane.
Investigators said the airboat continued to run after the women fell off.
Fortunately, the women’s cellphones still worked, and they were able to call for help. Using the ping from the cellphone, rescuers were able to find them nearly two hours after the boat malfunctioned.
7Skyforce hovered over the scene as flight medics made their way through the waist-deep sawgrass to assist the two victims, ages 29 and 27.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission boats also responded to the scene.
One of the women suffered a leg injury, and the other suffered minor shoulder injuries. None of the injuries are life-threatening.
Crews loaded the woman with the leg injury onto another airboat and took her to a boat ramp on Interstate 75, where a BSFR helicopter was waiting.
She was then airlifted to Broward Health Medical Center.
7News cameras captured rescue crews and the patient shortly after they arrived at the hospital.
Rescuers said that both researchers are experienced and fortunately the incident happened early in the day.
“There’s a lot of wildlife out here in the Everglades, and one of the considerations that we take is to be able to effect those rescues in the daylight hours because of the threat of alligators during the evening hours,” said Kane. “They can see a lot better than we can during the nighttime, and obviously, we don’t want to put ourselves in harm’s way unnecessarily.”
FIU officials said its research division uses airboats from time to time, but they’re going to hold off until they review the incident.
Crews with FWC and FIU were attempting to retrieve the airboat, but as of Wednesday night, it has not been towed back.
Copyright 2023 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.