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Friends & Family Celebrate Life Of Boating Accident Victim

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Family and friends gathered to remember Andrew Garcia, killed in a deadly three boat crash on the fourth of July.

A funeral was held for Garcia, 23, Thursday evening at Old Cutler Presbyterian Church.

Investigators say Garcia was driving a Contender Friday night. Shortly after the fireworks were over, as boats were coming in, Garcia’s boat collided with a Carrera with the Hanono Family on board off Dinner Key Marina. A third boat was also hit. One person on that boat suffered minor injuries.

In total there were 22 people involved in the accident. Four people were killed and seven were injured.

Garcia, Victoria Dempsey, 20, and Kelsey Karpiak, 24, who were in the Contender that hit the 36-foot Carrera, died in the accident.

The boyfriend of 22-year-old Heather Hanono, Jason Soleimani, 23, of Old Westbury, New York, was killed on the family’s boat.

READ: Families Dealing With Loss After Deadly Fourth Of July Boating Accident 

Garcia was a resident of Palmetto Bay who attended Miami Palmetto Sr. High and had recently graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University in 2013 where he earned a Bachelor’s of Business degree, according to his obituary.

Garcia is described as an “avid fisherman and experienced charter captain” who “had great passion for life and lived to be on the water.”

Garcia’s father, Former Miami-Dade fire boat captain Jack Garcia, has been a vocal critic against taking fireboats out of service, now after the incident, is demanding their reinstatement.

READ: Grieving Father, Firefighters’ Union Demand Change After Deadly Boating Accident

The fireboats have been out of service since 2011 due to county budget cuts. And though Miami’s fireboats 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 

Funeral services for Garcia are set for Thursday at Old Cutler Presbyterian Church followed by a celebration of Andrew’s life at 6:30 PM at The Deering Estate at Cutler. Garcia’s family has asked, in lieu of flowers, to consider a donation to The Andrew Garcia Charitable Fund.

Soleimani was the first of the four victims to be buried in New York earlier this week.

READ: Fourth Of July Boating Accident Victim Laid To Rest 

There will be a celebration of Dempsey’s life, who was on the boat with Garcia, Friday at 5 at Old Cutler Presbyterian Church.

Plans for a viewing and funeral are set for Karpiak, also on Garcia’s boat, at Stanfill Funeral home Saturday followed by Christ Journey Church in Coral Gables at 12:30 PM.

Click here to view Maggie Newland’s report.

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