Smaller Crowds and Fewer Incidents Noted Over Columbus Day Weekend
Enhanced law enforcement efforts and unsettled weather conditions resulted in fewer boaters participating in the 2007 Columbus Day Weekend gathering on Biscayne Bay. The small craft warnings, gusting winds, choppy seas and intermittent rain squalls, resulted in an estimated 50% fewer boaters on the water. Previous Columbus Day Weekends have attracted 3000-5000 boats with as many as 20,000 participants.
A coordinated effort by Miami Dade Police Department, Miami Dade Fire Rescue, Coral Gables Police Department, US Coast Guard, US Coast Guard Auxiliary, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, City of Miami Police, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Customs and Border Protection agencies to promote responsible boating behavior, and to protect lives, property and park resources was the focus for the weekend. "Despite the reduced crowd, numerous complex incidents did occur", states Steve Clark, Biscayne National Park Chief Ranger.
Four police officers were assaulted by two individuals who were charged with felony assault on a police officer.
Approximately 20 boating under the influence arrests were made by the various enforcement agencies.
Five boats capsized, due to overloading and rough seas. All the stranded individuals were rescued from the water by Miami Dade Police Department, Miami Dade Fire Rescue and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers in conjunction with the US Coast Guard helicopter crew.
Three other stranded individuals became separated from their boats and were returned safely to their vessels.
Three patients were airlifted to area hospitals, including two near drownings and one cardiac patient. Numerous other patients were treated by Miami Dade Fire Rescue for lacerations, a jelly fish sting, a stab wound, and a head injury from a thrown bottle.
"On behalf of the boating public and Biscayne National Park staff, I would like to thank the many federal, state and local agency staff who worked 24/7 since Friday evening to help provide for a safe weekend.", states Chief Ranger Clark. "I also applaud those captains who acted responsibly throughout the weekend, minimizing the risk to themselves and others."