Last Saturday morning, just one day after her graduation from The University of Miami, Elizabeth Goldenberg was tragically killed in an airboat accident.
The accident occurred when the operator of the boat stopped short, and everyone on the vessel was ejected. The reason for the abrupt stop was that another boat had broken down, and the Goldenberg’s boat veered off their current path to avoid it. Unfortunately, due to the low water levels, the boat got caught in thick grass causing all the passengers to be ejected. Elizabeth unfortunately was trapped underneath the engine and passed away from her injuries. Her family members survived.
Inadequate Safety Regulations
In Florida, the only requirement to operate a motorboat is completing a boating safety course. However, it appears that regulation on air boating is significantly overlooked and is a clear problem.
Airboats do not need to be registered, nor carry insurance, and the drivers are not required to pass background screenings. The only requirement is a 10- foot flagpole and something to soften the sound of the loud motor. Airboats are not required to have seatbelts, airbags, or windshields.
The operator of the Air Boat, The River of Grass Adventures, is a small company often referred to as a ghost operator. The reservations are made online and guests are advised to meet at a specific location for their tour. For those experienced in traveling these waters they know the consequences of using airboats during periods of low water levels. For example, larger companies like Buffalo Tiger Airboats which operates in the same waters closed last year due to low water levels for a period of time They stated that they have been avoiding drought areas currently due to same reasons.
All operators should be required to adhere to uniform guidelines that would help to better insure passenger safety.
The River of Grass Adventures is no longer accepting reservations for their airboat tours. It is stated on their website that this is due to low water levels. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Goldenberg family at this time.