Central Florida firefighter dies in powerboat crash on St. Johns River

3 others hospitalized after powerboats collide Saturday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Four men were hospitalized Saturday afternoon after powerboats racing on the St. Johns River collided. One later died.

The call came in around 1:50 p.m. on the third day of the P1 Jacksonville Grand Prix powerboat races.

Officials with the group running the race said two boats crashed during the first turn near Memorial Park, with one of the boats flipping over the other. Jacksonville Fire-Rescue took the injured to UF Health Jacksonville.


The Sanford Fire Department in Central Florida posted on Facebook that one of its own had died in the crash.

"It is with deep sadness and with a heavy heart that we inform you that Sanford Fire Department Tower Lieutenant Mike Salber has passed away this afternoon from injuries sustained during a boating accident. Please keep Mike’s family in your thoughts and prayers," said the post on Facebook.

Watch video of crash below.

There you can see one of the powerboats going airborne before flipping over onto the river.
Both of the boats involved in the crash are local to Florida, one from Port St. Lucie and the one that overturned in the video, from Orlando. 

The power boats can reach speeds of up to 75 mph.

One witness said the crash was unexpected.

"The boat in in the lead was shooting a lot of water off the backside of him and I was just looking at it hitting the front side of this boat and the next thing you know he just couldn’t see the wake in front of him and he just shot up in the air .There are two boats that shot up in the air at the same time and that was it," said the witness.

Organizers said the power boat races have been shut down for the day and they will be reviewing footage from the crash to get a better idea of what happened.

The boats involved in the crash were named, Frank and Al's Pizza and Rapid Building Solutions.


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