TAMPA, Fla. - A 39-foot boat crashed into a Florida restaurant after getting lost in fog Monday afternoon, injuring two people on the boat.
The boaters told investigators they got lost in the fog and didn’t realize they were near land when their SeaVee boat crashed into the Sunset Grill at Little Harbor in Ruskin, located across Tampa Bay from St. Petersburg.
Officials told the Tampa Bay Times that the boat was estimated to be traveling at 40 to 50 mph at the time of the crash.
A Duluth family had just arrived at the restaurant and was walking across the parking lot when they heard "something shattering, like plastic crunching," Jessica Haedrich, 12, told the Tampa Bay Times. Jessica and sister Alyssa Haedrich, 15, told the newspaper they saw kayaks smashed and chairs flipped from the crash.
The force of the collision caused part of the building’s roof to collapse. No restaurant workers or customers were injured, but the building had to be evacuated, said Nacole Revette, a Hillsborough County Fire Rescue spokeswoman.
Fire crews stabilized the roof and extracted one injured person on the boat, Revette said. The boater, who was in stable condition and not identified, was taken by ambulance to a local hospital. A second person who was injured on the boat took himself to the hospital. The injuries were not life-threatening, said Baryl Martin, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The boaters told investigators they couldn’t see well because of the fog, Martin said.
“The fog was rolling in and did obstruct the operator’s view,” Martin said. “He struck the beach and the building.”
There were seven people aboard the boat, which was equipped with four 300-horsepower outboard motors. The boaters had left from the Little Harbor area and had gone fishing offshore. They were returning to Little Harbor when the crash occurred, Martin said.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating. Hillsborough Code Enforcement responded to the scene because of the damage to the building, Revette said.