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Fort Lauderdale, Florida Sailboat Collides with Las Olas Boulevard Bridge

A Fort Lauderdale, Florida sailboat malfunctioned and crashed into Las Olas Boulevard Bridge on Friday, partially damaging both the bridge and the sailboat, news sources report. Information regarding the sailboat’s captain and other occupant’s identities was not immediately available following the incident. No one appears to have been injured. Police are currently conducting an investigation into the incident. It is unclear whether anyone will file for damages or whether the malfunction was due to a manufacturing error.

According to reports, the incident occurred at the Las Olas Boulevard Bridge, which extends over the Intracoastal Waterway in Fort Lauderdale. The bridge, which is controlled by the Department of Transportation, is currently undergoing construction as part of the Las Olas Rehabilitation Project. The project seeks to restore the historic bridge to it former functionality. The bridge is still open to drivers and bicyclists during construction.

Reports say the accident occurred around 12:45 Friday afternoon. At the time, a 90-foot, Turkish-style wooden ketch sailboat was out on the Intracoastal Waterway with eight people aboard. Sources say the sailboat experienced an unspecified mechanical failure near the bridge; the captain may have been unable to stop or reverse the boat. The vessel’s mast ended up striking the top portion of the bridge.

Witness Adam Matza was reportedly biking over the bridge when the vessel struck. Matza said he heard construction workers shouting, “Reverse! Reverse!” moments before the sailboat hit the bridge, sources indicate. “So the mast crashed against the bridge and started bending backward. It was a crunching noise; it sounded like metal on metal,” Matza purportedly said.

None of the eight people aboard the ship were injured. Though there were cars on the bridge when the crash occurred, none of them appear to have been affected. The sailboat, on the other hand, sustained damage to its foresail and bow. Lighting equipment located on the side rails on the bridge was also damaged; sources say the lighting is used to guide boats.

The nature and cause of the sailboat’s mechanical failure is still under investigation. The press did not specify whether the ship was a private or rented vessel.

South Florida is home to miles upon miles of shoreline, making it an ideal place for boating. Heavy boating populations also come with a steady flow of accidents. Earlier this month, four teens were sent to the hospital after a boating accident in Margate, sources report. Information regarding the teens’ identities was not immediately available after the accident. Two of the victims suffered critical injuries and were transported to Broward Health, while the other two suffered minor injuries and were taken to the Northwest Hospital following the accident.

Reports say the crash occurred on Saturday afternoon near the marina on 101 Rock Road in Margate. Two teen girls and two teen boys were on a 14-foot boat, traveling at high speeds, when it struck a pillar. “They were bleeding a lot,” a witness reportedly said following the crash. The teens were taken to the hospital. An update on their conditions was not immediately available.

Source: 8.24.13 Fort Lauderdale Boat Crash.pdf

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