CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – A woman was killed in a boating accident Tuesday in Clay County, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
It happened around 5 p.m. on Lake Geneva, the FWC incident report, which News4JAX obtained Wednesday, shows.
According to the report, Paul Kolomitz, 68, of Melrose, took Elizabeth Spisak, who her neighbor identified as Kolomitz’s longtime girlfriend, on his Gheenoe for a test drive of his new motor.
For reasons unknown, according to the report, the 12-foot canoe with an outboard motor dipped to the right, and both people were thrown into the lake.
The report said Kolomitz found Spisak, 57, of Keystone Heights, in the water and managed to get her to shore, but CPR efforts failed, and she died.
“She was a good person, a hard worker, a nice friend,” Karol Lagasse, who lived next door to Spisak, told News4JAX on Wednesday. “She’s going to be sorely missed.”
Lagasse said that this must be “terribly hard” on Spisak’s boyfriend.
“They were close,” Lagasse said.
Shop owner weighs in on canoe safety
News4JAX showed the type of motorized canoe involved in the accident to David Jones, the owner of DJ’s Kayak Rentals, which is the rental shop closest to the lake.
Jones said that if this kind of canoe tipped over, it would be difficult to flip it back up.
“It’d be pretty hard to upright,” he said. “It would take it more than one person for sure.”
Jones said canoes in general run a higher safety risk — which is why he only rents out kayaks.
Canoes get heavy when they’re tipped or turn upside down because water gets trapped inside. He said a motor adds even more weight and isn’t for beginners.
“I mean you need to have some type of experience for any type of motorized boat before you go out on the lake or have somebody with you that has the experience,” Jones said.
The report did not say whether Kolomitz was an experienced boater.
Another deadly boating accident occurred this month in Clay County
Tuesday’s deadly boating accident was the second in Clay County in just over two weeks.
On June 14, the FWC said, two people were on a 20-foot vessel when it struck a large boathouse dock on Black Creek, ejecting the passenger from the boat. According to officials, a neighbor saw the woman in the water, immediately jumped in, brought her to shore and started giving her CPR. The woman, who was identified by loved ones as Heather Anan, did not survive.
Anan’s family told News4JAX that her best friend Steve Brookins, a former drummer and founding member of the American rock band 38 Special, was driving the boat and was injured in the collision.
According to FWC, he was driving the boat at a high rate of speed before the crash.