Man, woman injured when boat hits tree on Black Creek

FWC, deputies investigating accident in Green Cove Springs

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – A woman was seriously injured Wednesday afternoon in a boating accident on Black Creek, according to the Clay County Sheriff's Office. A man was also taken to the hospital after the crash, which was reported about a quarter mile northeast of the Black Trials private boat ramp.

Charles Spiegel, who was driving the Boston Whaler, and another passenger suffered minor injuries when the boat hit a tree at about 30 mph.

"I just came around the bend and there's an overhanging branch," Spiegel said. "I cut it hard and broadsided the tree branch."

He said no one was thrown from the boat, but when the port side hit the tree, it came to a dead stop.

Spiegel said the man and woman that were in the back of the boat were alert when they were taken to Orange Park Medical Center, but were in a lot of pain.

A front-seat passenger in the boat was not hurt.

"I got pretty lucky. I was sitting at the front of the boat where the bars are bent in the front," Corey Simmons said. "I saw the tree and grabbed onto the railing. I hit and when I open my eyes, I was laying on my back, still holding onto the railing."

Not far from the boat accident scene is a sign warning boaters to be careful. It is not far from where a fatal boat crash happened a few years ago.

People familiar with the creek said it is is a difficult area to navigate, and local knowledge is a big plus.
"Black Creek is a winding creek. It has a lot of sharp turns, and you really have to be on your game when you were out here," said Chris Castelli, a Clay County Sheriff's Office marine deputy.

Clay County is assisting officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in investigating the crash.