Tour boat driver says PBSO deputies at fault - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Tour boat driver says PBSO deputies at fault

PALM BEACH COUNTY, FL (WFLX) - The driver of a sightseeing boat involved in a crash on Wednesday believes the sheriff's deputies were at fault.

It happened Wednesday afternoon in Broward County, in a stretch of water at the edge of the Everglades.

The deputies were on a training mission.

One sheriff's deputy lost a toe, and a passenger was seen limping afterwards.

As the Fish and Wildlife Commission begins its investigation, the driver and owner of the Ride The Wind tour company has said he believes this could have been a deadly accident.

"They were going way too fast for the safety of that trail," Meeker said.

Meeker says he's been boating since his grandfather taught him in the 70's, and that this was a dreaded moment.

"I almost got out of the way. But the thing was, he never slowed down," said Meeker.

Meeker says his sightseeing air boat, The Trailblazer, came face-to-face with a boat filled with five sheriffs deputies. He says he was going twenty, that the deputies were going up to forty. The two boats clipped.

"I was in the right, where I'm supposed to be at. They took my lane from me, if I didn't do what I did, we'd be a head-on collision. Their boat was out of control."

His boat was carrying five passengers. One was see limping shortly afterwards. He got a text message from a passenger today.

"Hey Randy, I hope you're doing Okay. We all want to thank you for saving our lives," the text message said.

He says his boat is likely totaled. He guesses the crash did $60,000 worth of damage.

"You can't replace the hull with the damage that has been done," said Meeker. "The cage is totally destroyed. The prop is totally destroyed. The carbon fibers are very expensive."

But Meeker says his feelings about his business, about how the crash happened, pale in comparison to how he's feeling about the deputy, John Killingsworth, whose foot was badly hurt in the crash.

"I go to church tonight, and we are going to pray tonight for him," Meeker said. "I'll tell ya, I'm lucky that he's in the situation he's in, he could have been dead."

Sheriff's deputies and the Fish and Wildlife Commission say it would be inappropriate to comment on the particulars of the crash until the investigation is complete.

That could take months.

Meeker says he wants them to admit fault and to settle with his insurance company, so that he can get back to business.

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