Families Dealing With Loss After Deadly Fourth Of July Boating Accident
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Twenty-two people, in three different boats, were involved in a boat crash that left four people dead on the Fourth of July.
Four people were killed, seven were injured, in the three-boat accident off Dinner Key Friday night.
Some of the victims are in critical condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital Monday.
According to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, a Contender hit the Hanono family’s boat.
Andrew Garcia, 23, Victoria Dempsey, 20, and 24-year old Kelsey Karpiak, according to FWC, were in the Contender that hit the 36-foot boat of the Hanono family.
The boyfriend of 22-year-old Heather Hanono, Jason Soleimani, 23, of Old Westbury, New York, was killed on the family’s boat.
Dayanara Arias, from New York, who was on the Hanono’s boat, was critically injured.
On the Contender, where the three people were killed, two others, Catherine Payne and Samantha Rolth, were critically injured.
Others have been treated and released.
On the third boat that was involved in the accident, a Boston Whaler, there was only one minor injury.
Families involved are still trying to piece together exactly what happened and what is the cause of the accident.
“She was a beautiful young lady. Everybody loved her,” said Jenny Dempsey, Victoria Dempsey’s sister.
Dempsey’s pain is still so fresh, but she fights through the tears to share just how special her sister Victoria truly was.
“She would do anything for everyone, anyone. And she lived, she lived life so much,” said Jenny Dempsey.
Jenny said Victoria Dempsey loved the water.
“She’s my shining star. She’s my rock. She’s meant to be here right now. She shouldn’t be gone,” added Jenny Dempsey.
Karpiak’s mother, Rosanna, said that her faith is getting her through losing her 24-year-old daughter.
“I begged God to tell me where she was and he said I have her, I have her and then I was OK,” Rosanna said.
Kelsey’s twin brother Kevin, who was on another boat and got a call about the accident, rushed to Dinner Key Marina.
“They didn’t know, they didn’t know how many kids,” said Rosanna, adding, “It was mass chaos.”
Rosanna said that her husband went from hospital to hospital.
“That night we went to every hospital where they took kids and asked,” she said.
Kelsey’s brother Kevin was eventually brought to Jackson where he had to ID his twin sister’s body.
“It’s a sad tragedy that’s ruined a lot of families. I’m not going to let it ruin mine,” Kevin said.
“I know she’s in heaven because we are believers,” said Rosanna.
Former Miami-Dade fire boat captain Jack Garcia, father of 23-year-old Andrew Garcia, is devastated by the loss of his son. It was Jack’s Contender that Andrew was driving, according.
Garcia was a vocal critic of taking the boats out of service is now demanding their reinstatement.
The fireboats have been out of service since 2011 due to county budget cuts. And though Miami’s fire boats were on scene, Garcia and the union leaders argue more could have been done to save the four people who died if the county’s fire boat was operational.
Read Jim DeFede’s investigative report from November 6, 2013: County Fireboats: Dead in the Water
“Arrogance, ignorance and professional jealousies all need to be put to the side. We need to get these boats back in service. So when this happens again tomorrow, another father is not standing here like I am, after 33 years, I know the night that happened everything that could have been done was not done. Everything that should have been there was not there,” said Garcia.
The third victim, also on the Contender along with Garcia and Karpiak, is Victoria Dempsey. A Facebook page has been created in her memory that reads, “heaven has gained an angel.”
Soleimani, from New York, was on the Hanono family’s boat.
CBS4 went to the Hanono’s home in Cutler Bay where one of the victims, with a black eye, said that nobody in the family was up to commenting at this time.
Kelsey’s mom is hoping something can come from the tragedy.