CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – Loved ones told New4JAX that Heather Anan died Tuesday morning after she was ejected from a boat that hit a dock on Black Creek in Clay County.
Her best friend Steve Brookins, a former drummer and founding member of the American rock band 38 Special, was driving and was injured in the collision, Anan’s family told News4JAX on Thursday.
Brookins was driving the boat on Black Creek at a high rate of speed before the crash, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Anan’s loved ones said they’re hoping this tragedy can remind others to slow down and pay attention while on the water.
Anan’s mother and sister said they will never forget the call they got after the accident.
“He said she’s gone. She’s gone,” mother Rebekah Elrod said.
“We actually had two sheriffs come to our house and let us know a little bit and just comfort us and make sure we were OK,” sister Dawn Bailey said.
Elrod and Bailey immediately left their home in Houston and came to Florida to learn more.
They said Anan, 44, was out boating on Black Creek Tuesday with her best friend Brookins, who was an original member of the ‘70s rock band founded by Donnie Van Zant and Don Barnes.
“They were just out on the boat. It was in the morning, they had music playing. They went out on the boat all the time,” Elrod said.
FWC’s accident report shows Brookins was driving the 20-foot boat west on Black Creek near Creekside Trail at a high speed when he struck a boathouse dock.
“All the police officers that we’ve talked to said that the boat probably hit 50 to 60 miles an hour,” Elrod said.
Anan was ejected from the boat.
“The police officers, I asked them time again, I need to know, did she see it coming? They said no, she did not see it coming and she died on impact. As a mom, that’s good for me. She didn’t suffer,” Elrod said.
A neighbor rushed to give Anan CPR, but it was too late. Anan’s mother is grateful for his efforts.
“Thank you for taking care of my little one. She’s no bigger than this,” Elrod said holding up her pinky finger. “Little, short, spitfire.”
Brookins was hospitalized for his injuries. Elrod said she checked on him to make sure her family friend of 12 years was OK.
“Accidents happen. I don’t want you to feel that guilt,” Elrod said she told him.
Elrod said she will remember he daughter as an entertainer.
“She was just effervescent. She was always happy,” Elrod said.
Tuesday’s call changed Elrod and Bailey’s life forever but they have peace knowing she is watching over them.
According to the FWC report, charges are pending. It’s unknown if the accident was alcohol-related, according to FWC.