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Boating expert discusses safety tips after a 57-year-old was killed by boater near Vanderbilt Beach

Local boating expert shares tips on how to stay safe while enjoying the water.
Posted at 10:52 PM, Mar 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-06 22:52:34-05

NAPLES, Fla. — Our waters here in Southwest Florida are beautiful, but they can also be dangerous.

Yesterday around 3:30pm 57 -year- old Onofrio Sozio was struck by a boat, severely injured and later died. It happened near Vanderbilt Beach and witnesses say the operator of the boat fled the scene. They described what they saw to one local boating expert.

“They saw him hit the guy, and apparently he threw him the life ring, and they saw him run or saw him go away and leave the scene, and they were like, look for this blue boat heading north from the Ritz”, said Captain Bill D’ Antuono with Offshore Naples Fishing Charter.

The boat was later found by Collier County Sheriffs Deputies at the Cocohatchee boat ramp. The suspected operator 75 year old James Allen was arrested.

The expert says it’s important to know the waters because there are signs meant to prevent cases like this.

“The buoys that are there, are marking where the swim zone is, and in between there that’s where the law is telling you, you have to be going slow”, said D’Antuono.

He says it’s crucial to pay attention to your surroundings especially on open water.

“Even if you’re outside that zone and going fast there could be a swimmer there, and things happen so fast in the water. Just give it a little buffer zone there especially if you don’t know the water or don’t know the rules”, said D’Antuono.

He also says it’s important not to totally surrender to the “thrill of speed“ because you can’t undo what happens.

“Back it down, slow it down just take it real slow because you’re on the water and you’re going fast there’s no brakes on a boat”, said D’Antuono.

For swimmers, let boaters know you’re sharing the water.

“There’s stuff you can buy like an inflatable tube or a pool noodle or something where it’s bright and people can see you from a distance”, said D’Antuono.

Captain Bill D’Antuono and FWC advise those who plan to enjoy Florida’s beautiful waterways to always wear life jackets and maintain a 360 degree awareness at all times.

For more boating safety tips be sure to visit myfwc.com/boating