A fishing trip turned deadly Tuesday morning when an airboat capsized in the Rodman Reservoir.
The 64-year-old operator of the boat was killed in the accident, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Joy Hill said. His 50-year-old fishing companion received minor injuries.
Hill said the men placed the airboat in the Rodman Reservoir from the Orange Springs Boat Ramp off County Road 315 around 8:30 a.m. with the intention of going fishing. About a half mile from the ramp, Hill said the operator took a hard right and the boat rolled over, sending both men into the water.
One of the men, Hill said, was wearing a life jacket. He removed his vest, and the two shared the life jacket and a cooler as their means of staying afloat.
Assistance came from a man who paddled his canoe out to them and told them to hold onto the boat so he could take them back to safety.
On the way back, the airboat operator was unresponsive. He later died before he could be taken to a hospital. The other man was taken to a hospital in Putnam County with minor injuries, Hill said.
FWC officials said the men were in the water for a couple of hours.
Marion County Sheriff’s Office dispatch received a call at around 10:40 a.m. from someone saying they had heard a voice screaming for help. A sheriff’s deputy arrived and saw the airboat in the water. A Marion County Fire Rescue paramedic pronounced the boat operator dead at the scene.
Officials withheld the identities of the men and their relationship until their families could be notified.
The death is the third water-related fatality since last Wednesday, when a 12-year-old girl drowned in Lake Weir. On Thursday, an 85-year-old man canoeing with his son on the Rainbow River died after the canoe flipped over. Officials said the man, who was visiting from Michigan, had a history of heart problems.