Captain of capsized boat may face fines
KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (WSVN) -- The captain of a party boat that capsized near Key Biscayne, tossing 31 people and a dog into the water, is speaking out for the first time.
Otho Campbell experienced every captain's worst nightmare. His 45-foot boat capsized in the water near the Miami Seaquarium on Sunday. On Monday, Campbell said he believes he hit something beneath the surface and a leak formed. "It went from concerned to serious within a couple of minutes, and then instantly water was pouring up," said Campbell.
Good Samaritans, the Coast Guard, state wildlife officials and commercial boats were among several rescuers that helped pull people out of the water.
Since Campbell's boat sunk, Florida Fish and Wildlife has issued a warning for people planning on heading out on party boats. "Do their homework and make sure that the person is properly licensed, that the boat is seaworthy," said Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission spokesperson Jorge Pino.
FWC officials said they are conducting an investigation to figure out if Campbell's boat was over-capacity. "Plenty of times I've had more then 40 people on board and I had 32, 47 life jackets. It's not an issue with the buoyancy," said Campbell.
FWC are also investigating if Campbell was running an illegal charter business.
Campbell told 7News most of the people on board were his friends. He said he did not charge any of them for the boat ride but said sometimes he does take money offered to him to help pay for the parties he throws on board.
The boat is still partially submerged in 6 to 8 feet of water. Divers have recovered wallets, cell phones and other personal belongings.
Campbell said he is relieved everyone was rescued and is OK. "Sorry about your stuff. Glad you're OK," he said. "You know I'll accept whatever charge, whatever responsibility, but my feelings are just relief."
Campbell said if he is given any citations he will pay any fines.
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