CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – A day after a deadly boat crash on Black Creek, the water was calm as the investigation continued.
James Widergren lives next door from where it happened.
“We had just came out right after the incident happened. Cops and EMT were already over there next door,” Widegren recounted.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said two people were on a 20-foot vessel on Tuesday when it struck a large boathouse dock on Black Creek, ejecting a woman from the boat.
According to officials, a neighbor saw the passenger in the water, immediately jumped in, brought her to shore and started giving her CPR. She did not survive.
Widergren said the layout of Black Creek near Creekside Trail is wide and not a common area for accidents.
“Black Creek does have a lot of sharp turns and areas that get tight. This particular area is probably 800 yards of straight. It’s very straight. It’s one of the wider parts of the creek, so this particular area wouldn’t be somewhere where someone would come around a blind turn and get thrown,” said Widegren.
While the cause of the crash is still under investigation, FWC sent News4JAX a statement with boating safety tips, including wearing a life jacket, maintaining 360-degree awareness, and knowing the dangers -- and penalties -- for operating a vessel while impaired.
According to FWC statistics, over half of all reported boating accidents in 2021 were from collisions, with 45% of those collisions attributed to operator inattention or improper lookout.
“Definitely be aware of your surroundings. You can never be too careful, but there’s no reason to have fear going up and down Black Creek. It’s very sad and our hearts go out to the lady’s family who lost her,” Widegren said. “But boat safely and it can be done having a lot of fun.”
According to FWC data, in the past three years, 17 vessel accidents and two other deaths have been reported in Clay County.