ISLAMORADA, Fla. – A former aide to Gov. Rick Scott was killed Sunday in a boat crash in the Florida Keys, authorities said.
"Jereima 'Jeri' Bustamante was known by many in the FWC from her time as Governor Rick Scott's press secretary, and this loss is felt by all of those who knew her and our hearts go out to her family and friends during this tragic time," Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Rob Klepper said in an email.
According to Klepper, an 18-foot-4-inch 2014 Maverick center-console with Bustamante, 33, and three others aboard struck mangrove trees while cruising down a narrow channel in Islamorada just after 6:15 p.m. Sunday.
Klepper said good Samaritans on another boat picked up the victims.
Bustamante was taken to Whale Harbor Marina, where she was treated by Islamorada Fire Rescue, but she did not survive her injuries.
"It is with true sadness that we learned today of the passing of our long time Press Secretary, Jeri Bustamante, who faithfully served in our administration for many years," Scott and First Lady Ann Scott said in a statement. "Anyone who ever spent time with Jeri knows what a terrific and selfless person she was. Her personality filled rooms and hearts. We grieve with her family today."
"Jeri was a part of our team for many years," Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera also said in a statement. "She was a joy to work with and cared tremendously about her family, her career and the Floridians she served. I met Jeri when working as Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser and witnessed her passion for media relations firsthand. My family and I are grieving with Jeri's family and those closest to her."
Klepper said the operator of the vessel, Eddy Briel, 38, and the other two passengers, Geydis Briel, 32, and Anthony Bustamante, 37, all of Miami, were taken to Mariner's Hospital in Tavernier to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
Klepper said the crash remains under investigation and no further details will be released at this time.