Two injured in boating crash near Indian Rocks Beach

Kirk R. Johnson

INDIAN ROCKS BEACH — Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies say a 62-year-old man from Washington was boating under the influence when his boat crashed into two boats and a dock about 5 p.m. Aug. 24 in the Intracoastal Waterway just east of 373 12th Ave. in Indian Rocks Beach.

Deputies assigned to the Marine Unit say Kirk Johnson was operating a 23-foot Yamaha jet boat, traveling southbound in the Intracoastal Waterway east of 373 12th Ave. in Indian Rocks Beach. He had five passengers.

Flavio Irizarry, 61, was operating a 21-foot Grady White boat traveling northbound approaching the same area with two passengers on board.

Deputies say both vessels were approaching each other when Irizarry noticed that the Yamaha weaving back and forth. The Yamaha then took a course directly towards Irizarry's Grady White.

Irizarry told deputies that he had attempted to steer out of the path of the oncoming vessel but he could not avoid the collision. The Yamaha struck the rear of the Grady White, ripping off the outboard motor and exposing the transom.

Witnesses told deputies the crash sent the Yamaha airborne, and all six occupants were ejected from the boat and into the water.

Deputies say the unmanned Yamaha was still powered as it circled the area uncontrollably before traveling eastbound and crashing into a nearby dock and an unoccupied 24-foot Pathfinder boat.

Good Samaritans were pulling the boaters from the water when Marine Unit deputies arrived to help with the water rescue.

Paramedics responded and transported Gaylord Stanton, 68, a passenger in the Yamaha, to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg Hospital for non-life threatening injuries. Jason Irizarry, 16, a passenger on the Grady White, was transported to All Children's Hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

The other occupants of the Yamaha and the Grady White declined medical treatment at the scene.

During the course of the investigation, Marine Unit deputies say they noted Johnson showed signs of impairment. He agreed to perform Field Sobriety Tests, but he performed poorly on them.

Deputies say Johnson submitted to a breath sample, which indicated he had a Breath Alcohol Concentration of .149/.145. In Florida, a person can be arrested for DUI if they have a breath-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath (over .08 BrAC).

He was arrested and booked into the county jail on one count of boating under the influence. Bail was set at $500. He was released on surety bond about 3:30 a.m. Aug. 25.

Deputies say the Grady White vessel sunk due to extensive damage. The U.S. Coast Guard was notified of the hazard and efforts to remove the vessel will continue in the coming days.