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7 people rescued from boat crash near Sanibel and Fort Myers Beach

Posted at 5:10 AM, Mar 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-14 15:14:24-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Sanibel Fire and Rescue District say two boats crashed along the water near Sanibel and Fort Myers Beach around 10:00 p.m. Sunday night. Officials say as soon as the boat struck the other, it began to sink.

One of the people on the boat called 911, and multiple agencies responded including Sanibel Fire and Rescue District.

"Two boats were involved. One was a 50-foot sailboat, the other was an approximately 30-foot fishing vessel. The sailboat itself was anchored outside of the channel and the incoming vessel didn’t see it struck it," says Captain John DiMaria of Sanibel Fire and Rescue District.

Seven people were on board one of the boats when the crash and were taken to Moss Marina to be medically evaluated.

Captain DiMaria says the crash is still under investigation as of Monday night.

Officials couldn't answer if the boat was rented or whether or not any of the individuals were from out of town or familiar with our waterways.

This crash comes just a few weeks after investigators say a boat struck the base of the Cape Coral Bridge and sank at the end of February so tonight we are asking officials about boating safety, especially during this spring break season.

Adam Brown with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission explains, "This is going to be a difficult year I think certainly for spring break and for some folks that are maybe coming down a vacation that is not as familiar with our waters our waters have changed quite a bit in the last six months."

Brown says channel markers may not be in the appropriate places or there completely gone... some of the channels and sand bars have shifted as well. "There’s still some debris in the water that we're fighting so number one just makes sure that you educate yourself prior to being out in the boat."

Brown adds people need to be aware constantly... "Similar to operating in your vehicle on the roadway we need to make sure you’re setting your cell phone down and paying attention to the channel that you’re in."

"Obviously with the boat traffic and our water changing so drastically with the hurricane just knowing that some of these waters that we were originally used to may not be the same so we just need to be very careful and cautious," says Captain DiMaria. Adding, "We would like to reiterate the fact that many of our waterways that we were once used to have changed so please take your time while underway and be aware of your surroundings. There may still be floating debris and other objects in the water that can cause a significant risk to safety. Also please do not operate a vessel while intoxicated as this too will cause a risk to yourself and others on the water”