Terrified Florida Tourists Stranded in Reptile-Infested Water After Captain Flips Boat in Everglades

A group of tourists in Florida are recovering after a terrifying start to their holiday weekend on Friday.

Nine passengers found themselves fending for their lives in reptile-infested waters when their airboat capsized during a tour of the Everglades, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC).

Passengers later told CBS Miami that the boat took a sharp turn while trying to get close to an alligator when the boat started to take on water and then capsized, dumping all 10 people onboard into the swamp waters.

“There was a crocodile in the water and our captain tried to maneuver the boat, make a U-turn almost, but he didn’t succeed and he tried to make another U-turn to go back to where we were coming from and the boat just flipped,” said passenger Jose Maldanado.

The group spent about 10 minutes in the water, according to one passenger, before being rescued and treated back on dry land.

Video posted to social media shows the group trudging through the swamp water to the airboat that eventually rescued them all from the terrifying ordeal.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue examined the passengers, who suffered nothing more than a few scratches in most cases. One person did get assessed for injuries, but they were not hospitalized, according to authorities.

On Friday, police arrested the individual who had been operating the airboat when it capsized.

“The operator of the airboat, an employee of Coopertown Airboat Rides, was arrested and transported to jail for having neither proof of completion of a boating safety course nor a captain’s license issued by the United States Coast Guard,” the FFWCC said in a statement.

Police have not released the name of that captain.

Coopertown Airboat Rides did not respond to a request for comment.

Related Stories