The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has released the names of the two men involved in a single vessel boating accident on the Apalachicola River Saturday afternoon.
The FWC said the vessel, with two adult males on board, collided with a tree leaning over the river, sometime before 4 p.m.
Gary R. Tibbetts, 64, of Ozark, Alabama. was pronounced deceased by EMS at Bay City Lodge. The other man, William E. Hardwick, 61, of Ozark, was transported to an area hospital where he is being treated for his injuries.
“With heavy hearts, we would like to offer our condolences to Mr. Tibbetts’ family and friends,” said Major Fred Rondeau, FWC northwest regional commander. “We ask that everyone touched by this accident keep them in their thoughts as they navigate this time of loss.
Eli Thomas, who works at Bay City, said the two men were aboard a small boat, under 20-feet, powered by a 90-hp Mercury engine.
She said member of their larger party, who had been staying at the Bay City, were following in a boat close behind the two men, and witnessed what happened, and then quickly boarded the boat to administer first aid and quick return them to shore.
Thomas said they recounted how a hat worn by the boat’s pilot had blown off in the East River, and he when he turned the boat sharply to retrieve it, he was struck by overhanging limbs.
The boat passenger than stood up in order to take control of the boat, and he too was struck by overhanging limbs.
“It’s a windy curve, full of cypress trees and stumps,” she said. “If you take your eyes for a minutes, something can really go wrong.”
Thomas said she was told that Hardwick is in the process of being transported to Pensacola for reconstructive surgery.