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Vessel crashes into sandbar, one person gets trauma-alerted

By Staff | Jul 26, 2019

The Captiva Island Fire Control District and other area agencies recently responded to a boat that ran aground on a sandbar, resulting in one person being trauma-alerted via helicopter to the hospital.

At 9 p.m. July 20, the district received a call about a vessel in distress with injuries. Fire Chief Jeff Pawul reported that the boat had run aground on a sandbar about one mile out in the Pine Island Sound. The site was just north of Chino Island and eastbound of the ‘Tween Waters Island Resort and Spa.

“They hit a sandbar – at speed,” he said.

There were four adults on the vessel, of which two reported injuries.

Firefighter-medic Joshua Hulslander and Firefighter-EMT Aaron Mckenzie responded.

“We were the first (on scene),” Hulslander said.

According to Pawul, the boat traveled approximately 1,000 yards after hitting the sandbar. Upon arrival, the two-man crew had to get off the rescue boat and walk to reach the vessel.

One person was transported to the district’s landing zone at the South Seas Island Resort, where LeeFlight trauma-alerted him to the hospital. A second person with injuries later refused treatment.

“He went flying into the bow of the boat,” he said of the trauma patient.

The Sanibel Fire and Rescue District, Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Upper Captiva Fire and Rescue District and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission also responded to the scene via boats.

Pawul could not say if the boaters were residents or visitors.

As of July 25, he did not have an update on the trauma-alerted patient’s status.

Pawul shared the details of the call with the fire commission at its July 23 meeting.

“If ever there was a call to prove that we needed a boat, this was it,” he told the commissioners.

“Our guys did a great job getting to them and getting him out of here, especially in the dark,” Pawul added.

Residents and visitors boating the local waters at night are advised to be observant.

“Boating at night is a lot different than boating in the day,” he said. “You can easily get turned around or think you’re in a channel but you’re not.”

Pawul recommended knowing the local charts and navigation.

“Be educated as much as possible on where you’re operating,” he said.

In addition, boats should have adequate lighting.

“And have a sober driver or sober captain,” Pawul said, noting that he does not know if alcohol or being irresponsible was involved in the crash. “But a lot of times those are factors in these accidents.”

If a similar incident does occur, call 911 on a cell phone or the U.S. Coast Guard on the radio.

“Know your location, that’s one of the most important things,” he said. “The worst part about water-related calls (for first responders) is having an accurate description of where you are going.”