Nightmare: Air Boat Flips, Tossing Passengers Into Gator-Infested Waters

[Screenshot/YouTube/WPLG Local 10]

Fiona McLoughlin Contributor
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An airboat with passengers onboard flipped over in alligator-infested water Friday in Miami-Dade County, Florida, Local 10 reported.

There were roughly 10 people on board the boat at the time of the incident at Coopertown Airboats, according to the outlet. Passengers told the outlet they were stuck for about 10 to 15 minutes while waiting to be rescued by officials.

Passengers onboard said the captain was attempting to maneuver the boat to get a better look at an alligator in the water, Local 10 reported. They reportedly believed the captain turned too fast, causing the boat to flip over.

“[The] boat just flipped on its side and we’re all in the water,” a passenger told Local 10. “I was screaming, because the alligator’s right there. Luckily, no one was hurt badly. A couple of scratches here and there — an accident. Things happen.”

“My first thought was panic, I was afraid for my wife and family members, and then I thought about the alligator,” Jose Maldonado, another passenger, told the outlet. (RELATED: REPORT: Two Sent To Hospital, 19 People Rescued After Rowing Team’s Boat Capsizes)

“We tried to flip the boat over but it was just too heavy,” he reportedly added.

One person was given a medical evaluation but did not go to the hospital, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue said,the outlet reported. There were no additional injuries reported.

Following the crash, officials could be seen leading a man in handcuffs to a pickup truck, and he was then taken away, a Local 10 broadcast appeared to show. The man was reportedly described to be wearing a shirt resembling one of Coopertown Airboat employees. His identity has yet to be made public, according to Local 10.

Officials alleged the operator of the boat was arrested “for having neither proof of completion of a boating safety course nor a captain’s license issued by the United States Coast Guard,” according to Local 10.