Man dies after personal watercraft crash in Matanzas River

Expert gives water recreational safety advice for Fourth of July holiday weekend

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Florida Fish and Wildlife says a man who was injured in a personal watercraft accident in the Matanzas River on Friday afternoon has died.

George Brezina Jr., 63, died at UF Health Jacksonville.

It happened just after 3 p.m. just south of the State Road 312 bridge. Two jet skis were traveling together, but only one crashed.

St. Johns County rescue crews transported Brezina to Flagler Hospital with critical injuries after the accident. He was then transported to UF Health.

Florida Fish and Wildlife officials, who are investigating the accident, believed he hit either a sandbar or some sort of object just below the water's surface.

Rusty Gardner, the owner of Boat Florida Rentals, told News4Jax that can happen without being close to shore.

"The St. Johns, in general, anywhere around boating in our area, the water can be very shallow, where even 200 yards from the shore, the water can be one-foot deep or less. And when the tide goes out, you're going to see a sand bar," Gardner said. 

Over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, anyone out boating and navigating the waters needs to know the area, Gardner said. 

He said boaters also need to watch out for what others are doing.

"They have to remember that the legal limit for driving a boat with alcohol is .08. So you can't be intoxicated driving the boat," Gardner said. "And that's the number one cause of accidents in the state of Florida."