Sanibel Fire saves 7 from debris-filled waters after nighttime crash

Reporter: Amy Galo Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:

Firefighters warn of hazardous debris left behind by Hurricane Ian after a boat carrying seven people crashed into an empty sailboat on Sunday night between Sanibel and Fort Myers Beach.

All seven people aboard the boat were thrown into the water around 10 p.m. Arien Moore from the Sanibel Fire and Rescue District was part of the crew that responded to the urgent call for help.

“It’s kind of scary driving,” Moore said. “There were three of us on the boat, and everybody’s gotta have their eyes out.”

It was scary because it was too dark to properly see what was in the water.

“They said there are 1,800 cars, something like that, between here and Fort Myers Beach,” Moore said.

And then there was the abandoned sailboat that the boaters hit and likely never saw. Sanibel Fire joined forces with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Coast Guard to rescue everyone.

Capt. Chris Jackson of Sanibel Fire and Rescue says his team is used to nighttime calls, but getting around became trickier after Hurricane Ian.

“A lot of the navigational aids were completely gone after Ian,” Jackson said.

The official cause of the boat crash is still under investigation. But Jackson says he hasn’t ruled out dark conditions and post-Ian debris.

“At least during the daytime, you can see the thing sticking out of the water,” Jackson said.

Jackson says he encourages people to use their boats during daylight hours. Until the debris is finally all cleaned out of our waterways, it’s dangerous at night.

Sanibel Fire and Rescue says it has responded to many nighttime crashes since Hurricane Ian. Oftentimes, even the rescue teams don’t feel safe heading out in the dark because of all the random objects in the water.

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