2 dead after watercraft collides with tour boat

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CLEARWATER, Fla. - Two tourists are dead after their personal watercraft collided with a tour boat near a Clearwater causeway.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that a 51-year-old man and a 49-year-old woman on a rented water scooter crashed into a double-decker tour boat on a dolphin-sighting cruise Saturday. The victims have not been identified pending notification of their relatives.

No one on the tour boat was injured.

"Our thoughts and our prayers are with the family affected by this tragic accident," said Trisha Rodriguez, owner of the Tropic Boat Tours boat. "This has never happened to us before. It's a tragedy."

Investigators with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are trying to determine what happened to cause the collision. Authorities said the incident should serve as a reminder of the hazards of personal watercraft.

"Slow down. It increases your reaction time and gives you space that could save your life," said Baryl Martin, a spokesman for the wildlife commission. "People think these things are toys, but they're not."

The incident is the second fatal accident this month involving a water scooter in the area. Fifteen-year-old Katie Yale of Seminole died after a Labor Day collision between her inner tube and a personal watercraft.

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