21 injured after Everglades tour airboats collide

2 Gator Park 'safari' tour airboats crash -- sending 21 to hospital

By Terrell Forney - Reporter, Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. - Two airboats on a "safari" tour of the Everglades National Park collided, leaving 21 injured after a miscommunication Monday, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman said.

There were 48 passengers aboard the two airboats and two vessel operators. Some people fell into the water after the boats collided about three miles out into the Florida Everglades -- home to alligators and boa constrictors.

"Seconds before impact we knew what was happening, so you just had to brace yourself and hold on," Peter Brown, who was on one of the boats, said. "And once that happened, obviously there was lots of screaming."

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"One girl nearly fell, and she came out from the other boat and landed in our boat. She was half in the water and half in our boat," another victim, Jane Austin, said. "It was fast. It was full throttle."

Two other airboats picked up the stranded -- including the 21 who suffered minor injuries -- and took them to Gator Park, 24050 SW Eighth St., in southwest Miami-Dade County. Passengers were given refunds.

THE RIDE

Gator Park was planning to continue airboat tours Monday until 5 p.m. Tickets are about $20 on site and $45 with transportation from Miami Beach. Private tours range from $250 to $425 and may include transportation services at hotels. For more information, call 305-559-2255.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue took the injured to Kendall Regional Medical Center, South Miami Hospital, Baptist Hospital and West Kendall Baptist Hospital.

FWC officials were investigating.

Local10.com reporter Andrea Torres contributed to this report.

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