NORTH MIAMI, FLA. (WSVN) – A man who raced to the rescue of people who were ejected into the water after their boat crashed north of Key Largo is speaking out about his efforts to render aid in the collision that claimed a teenage girl’s life and sent 10 other people to the hospital.
Speaking with 7News over the phone on Wednesday, Pedro Fernandez said he was heading to the Florida Keys for dinner on Sunday night when he saw the 29-foot vessel involved in the crash.
The good Samaritan said he drove closer to lend a helping hand.
“We recovered two ladies first, and one had their forehead open, a pretty bad injury on her head,” he said.
Fernandez said one of the teens who were ejected from the boat was discovered submerged about 15 minutes before she was pulled from the water.
“We boarded the girl and started doing some CPR, talking to 911,” he said. “She caught a lot of water. For me, she was doing good, but she was unconscious.”
Cellphone video recorded by Fernandez captured the moment a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue helicopter arrived at the scene to pull other victims from the water.
Pictures taken at the scene showed the wreckage of the boat upside down in the water.
Seventeen-year-old Lucy Fernandez lost her life in the crash. The Miami Herald reported that the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner found the cause of death for the teen to be drowning.
7News later learned the victims were out celebrating a birthday at the time of the crash.
Three days later, 7SkyForce hovered above the damaged boat at a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission facility in North Miami, where it was taken after the crash.
Most of the damage could be seen on the starboard side, or right side of the vessel.
FWC investigators said two adults and 12 teenagers were on board when it hit a channel marker in the Intracoastal Waterway at the south end of Biscayne Bay, not far from Ocean Reef.
Authorities said the boat capsized after all occupants were ejected.
The boat’s operator, identified as 51-year-old Jorge Pino, was also injured. He has appeared on Fox Business.
FWC officials said alcohol was not a factor in the crash.
Longtime charter boat captain Stan Saffan, who operates the boat Therapy-IV, said tragedies like this are preventable.
“You have to pay attention to your surroundings and the sea conditions and anything that might be floating in the water or any swimmers in the water,” he said.
FWC continues to investigate.
The teenage victims all attended Our Lady of Lourdes Academy or Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart, two communities now united in mourning for Fernandez, who had just started her senior year at Our Lady of Lourdes. They’re also united in prayer for the injured victims.
Fernandez has no ties to the group, but he said he has two daughters and is just happy that he was in a position to help.
“You know, sometimes you need to stop and help people. You never know when you’re going to need it,” he said.
A funeral for Fernandez has been scheduled for Monday.
A fund has been set up for a scholarship under Fernandez’s name with a $300,000 goal. As of late Wednesday night, over $213,000 had been raised. If you would like to contribute, click here.
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