MARATHON, Fla. – Wild video making the rounds online shows a powerboat spinning out in rough waters in the Florida Keys. In seconds, two people are seen being ejected from the vessel and thrown into the water.
It happened over the weekend in Marathon at Race World Offshore’s 7 Mile Grand Prix, a 5.6-mile course for gas-guzzling, high-energy powerboats.
Rob O’Connell and Ervin Grant were the ones thrown off the 27-foot boat sponsored by Team Farnsworth, based in Pompano Beach.
“We caught a pretty good hit. When we came back on the water, we had a steering ram fail on the outdrive that caused us to hook,” O’Connell said. “We both got thrown out of the boat, far away from the boat. It could have rolled over or pinned us under; thank God it just spun.”
Seconds after the crash, Jack Carlson of Two Conch Charters was there with a private medical team to pluck the pair out of the water.
“We quickly got them to the Coast Guard station in Marathon, and EMS took them away,” Carlson said.
U.S. Coast Guard crews could be seen patrolling the waters but were not involved in the transport, an agency spokesperson told Local 10 News.
O’Connell said he and Grant were shaken but eventually realized they were able to move their extremities. Aside from a bruise and laceration on Grant’s foot, they escaped largely unscathed.
Larry Bliel, organizer of Race World Offshore, told Local 10 the race started late and was called off early because of weather on Sunday.
Team Farnsworth owner Win Farnsworth said racing events are for enjoyment and are largely done on a part-time basis.
“It’s to build camaraderie between our teams,” he said. “The last thing we want is anybody hurt.”
O’Connell said he’s in the process of repairing the boat and getting ready for the next race.
“It wasn’t the most optimal conditions, but if you ask a bunch of powerboat racers: ‘Do you want to go, or do you want to stay in shore?’ Ninety-nine percent are going to say, ‘Let’s go,’” he said.