By Steve King
PALM BEACH COUNTY, Florida (WPBF) — Officials said a good Samaritan died after he helped rescue people from a capsized boat on Saturday.
Riviera Beach Fire Rescue confirmed that a boat capsized just south of the Palm Beach Inlet jetty Saturday afternoon.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Coast Guard and Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office also responded to the scene where 12 boaters were rescued.
The three adults and nine children were transported by rescuers to Sailfish Marina for further evaluation on land. Officials said bystanders, including a private vessel and a towboat, also assisted in rescue efforts.
Riviera Beach fire confirmed that all 12 boaters are in good health.
The state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating the death of the good Samaritan and no information has been released yet on his identity.
John Snow, a captain with Sea Tow Palm Beach, also assisted during the rescue. However, he says he didn’t witness the man get killed.
Snow says it took him about 15 minutes to get to the area of the capsized boat.
“I saw the vessel that was capsized,” Snow said. “I pulled up on scene. There was another vessel there helping the people out of the water.”
Snow said when he arrived, nine children were in the water and the three adults on the capsized boat were still on board by the time he arrived. However he says two women from the capsized boat jumped off when it started sinking.
“It was a bunch of chaos and everybody was trying to assist everybody out of the water because we were floating closest to the rocks, trying to get everybody out so nobody else gets hurt,” Snow said.
He said the whole rescue operation lasted about half an hour. He says a dive boat and another tow company vessel were in the area as well, along with the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Coast Guard.
Now, Snow is reflecting on the death of a man just trying to step up and help.
“I’m super sorry for the family,” Snow said. “Somebody trying to save a life ended up losing theirs and I feel bad that it happened. My heart goes out to him and his family.”
Snow estimates the capsized boat to be about 20 feet and he says the waves were about 6 feet high when the boat started taking on water.
According to Coast Guard guidelines, boats of that size should only have up to eight people on board.
The state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission leaders have still not shared why the boat capsized.
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