Jimmy Maxwell's boat sits submerged in the water, [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]
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UPDATE: Tragedy on the river as boats collide

A second person has been placed on life support following a catastrophic collision early Saturday afternoon between two charter boats in Scipio Creek.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on Saturday afternoon confirmed that one man died within hours of the collision, which took place just about noon on a flat between Scipio Creek and the Apalachicola River.

Kelley Funeral Home said that on Saturday afternoon at about 4 p.m., they transported the body of a 56-year-old man from Georgia to the medical examiner’s office in Tallahassee for an autopsy.

Sheriff A.J. Smith said he rushed to the scene immediately upon learning from dispatch about the accident. w

After arriving at the Scipio Creek Marina, he jumped aboard a boat along with Trey Ross and Bert Carpenter to the scene where a 23-foot and a 21-foot vessel in Scipio Creek had collided in the marsh, at or near a cut-through across from the Apalachicola Ice Company at 247 Water Street.

The boats were piloted by A.J. Finch and Jimmy Maxwell. Maxwell’s boat was sunk while Finch’s boat, damaged but still floating, later returned to the docks.

“When we got there, someone was pulling one of the males out of the water,” Smith said. “There was one female lying out on the side on board.

“They were trying to get people triaged on the dock,” he said. “You could tell it was very serious.”

The sheriff said Finch assisted with the rescue of the three passengers and pilot who had been on Maxwell’s boat,

“They were going through a cut-through, where it was very shallow.,” he said.

On Monday afternoon, the sheriff confirmed that the woman, who had been transferred by ambulance in critical condition to Bay Medical Center in Panama City, had been placed on life support.

The other of the two male passengers was treated for his injuries at Weems Memorial Hospital in Apalachicola.

Officers from FWC, the Apalachicola Police Department and Franklin County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene.

“There are a lot of curves in there,” said Apalachicola Police Chief Bobby Varnes.

Varnes said Finch and Maxwell had not sustained life-threatening injuries. “Both were talking and standing,” he said.

The sheriff said speed can be a factor in these accidents. “Boats are like cars, they run fast and you have to very aware all the time,” he said.

“Nobody hardly abides by the ‘no wake zone,’ ” he said, adding that he would like to see the area better marked by signage.

“This is a very unfortunate vessel incident,” said Major Fred Rondeau, FWC
northwest regional commander. “We ask that the community keep the family
of the victim in their thoughts, and hope for a speedy recovery for those injured.”

This accident remains under investigation, and more information will be shared
when available.

Jimmy Maxwell’s boat rests in the water adjacent to a curve in Scipio Creek. [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]

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Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor


  1. David Adlerstein,
    Apalachicola Times
    Thank you for your excellence in reporting!!!!!
    We appreciate you!

  2. Thank you David for the excellent job you are doing. Prayers for all involved. The marshes can be very dangerous. Although I have never used this cut through, the one just up river from her I have and it always makes me nervous knowing someone just might be coming the other way.

  3. Thank you for all the thoughts and prayers, The female victim has NOT died yet. Death is imminent but as of right now she is still being kept alive by life support. I’m at her bedside.

    1. Prayers going up for the family and Ms.Ruth…so sorry too hear this..she is such a wonderful women.
      Prayers for all…may God be with you all

    2. R C – Thank you for your response. Our family is continuing to keep you, your family, and all who have been affected by this terrible tragedy, in our prayers. May our Heavenly Father give comfort to all of you.

  4. Both captains should be sitting in jail with murder charges!!! That famous good ol boy justice system will keep them safe though!!!

  5. One of the female passengers is still hospitalized in Tallahassee. She is undergoing surgery for the injuries she sustained. She is my niece.

  6. The female involved that was in critical condition has now passed! We thank everyone for their kind words and prayers! We were able to turn this tragedy into a miracle for a couple of people by donating my mom’s organs ( she was a registered organ donor and we honored her wishes!) Ascension Sacred Heart- To the ICU nurses, LifeQuest staff and other hospital staff, we want to say Thank You from the bottom of our hearts for providing excellent care for my mom and our family❤ we are forever grateful

  7. I would like to mention that my sister Ruth was not only an organ donor but she was also a nurse for nearly 30 years and a Vietnam veteran. She touched so many lives with her kindness, compassion and generosity. She will be missed by so many people. Rest in peace sis!

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