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Friends, Family Pay Respect To Victim In Deadly Boating Accident

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CORAL GABLES (CBSMiami) — Friends and family gathered to pay their respects to one of the victims in the July 4th boating accident off Dinner Key.

Kelsie Karpiak, 24, died from injuries sustained after the boat she was on, hit a 36-foot Carrera boat.

About two thousand people overflowed out of Christ Journey Church in Coral Gables for what the family called a celebration of life for their 24-year-old daughter.

A dancer performed in front of the congregation as a tribute to Kelsie Karpiak.  The young woman loved dance, animals and church.

Watch the report, click here. 

“This family has taken refuge in the God of the Universe, the God who created Kelsie,” said Pastor David Wideman.

The pastor explained it was their faith pulling them through the worst time in their lives, one friend wrote a poem calling the Palmetto High School former homecoming queen an angel on earth.

“Words can’t explain or measure its worth but heaven’s gained back it’s angel on earth.

Her girlfriends explained how Kelsie’s mother who spoke to CBS4’s Cynthia Demos earlier this week said the girls should be bridesmaids in each other’s weddings, planning their future, not mourning.

Kelsie’s friends told stories they would have told at Kelsie’s wedding. One mentioned her father, a coach and Kelsie knew a lot about sports.

“She was the only cheerleader in pop warner who knew the difference between offense and defense,” one of her friend’s said.

Kelsie was to take over and run her mother’s dance company, American Dance Alliance, but that dream and so much more was cut short.

Her twin brother, Kevin, is the one who ID’d his sister’s body the night of the crash.

He found the strength to speak, saying he lost his best friend.

“But, I do believe she is with God watching over me today,” said Kevin Karpiak. “From here on out everything I do, I’ll do for you, I love you Kelsie, always and forever.

Kelsie was one of four people killed in the crash.

Andrew Garcia (Source: Facebook), Victoria Dempsey (Source: Twitter), Kelsey

Andrew Garcia (Source: Facebook), Victoria Dempsey (Source: Twitter), Kelsie Karpiak

A fishing tournament is also taking place Saturday in honor of the four families who lost someone in the boating accident.

The tournament started Saturday morning and weigh-in took place at Black Point Ocean Grill in the afternoon.

One of the victims who also died in the accident, Victoria “Tori” Dempsey, was part of the “Hook for Hope” family which is hosting the tournament.

Dempsey was laid to rest on Friday. Those attending her funeral were encouraged to wear flip-flops in her honor.

Her celebration of life came just a day after another family paid their respects to victim, Andrew Garcia, 23,  who also died in the accident.

Investigators said Garcia was driving a Contender at night on July 4th. Shortly after the fireworks were over, as boats were coming in, Garcia’s boat collided with a Carrera with the Hanono Family on board. A third boat was also hit. One person on that boat suffered minor injuries.

(Source: CBS4)

(Source: CBS4)

In total there were 22 people involved in the accident.

Garcia, Dempsey and Karpiak were in the Contender that hit the 36-foot Carrera.

The boyfriend of 22-year-old Heather Hanono, Jason Soleimani, 23, of Old Westbury, New York, was killed on the family’s boat. Soleimani was the first of the four victims to be buried in New York.

Jason Soleimani (Source: The Miami Herald)

Jason Soleimani (Source: The Miami Herald)

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.

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.

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