July 30th, 2013 - by DKRPA
Two Winter Haven men took two boys for an afternoon of fun at the lake on Saturday, but the day did not end up that way. Both boys, aged 9 and 10, and a 31-year-old man sustained serious injuries when the inner tube they were riding in slammed into a Lake Lulu dock. All three were hospitalized, with the adult in critical condition and the 10-year-old in grave condition after the accident.
The Orlando Sentinel did not describe how the two adults and the two boys were related, but the 9-year-old boy and the 28-year-old man have the same last name.
According to the Sentinel, the 28-year-old man was towing the inner tube from his 2004 Polaris MSX 140 jet ski — a one-person, upright craft ridden like a motorcycle.
According to a Polk County Sheriff’s Office report, he made a right turn too close to the dock, and the towed inner tube swung to wide, causing it to crash into the dock.
After the wreck, the 10-year-old boy was airlifted to Tampa General Hospital, where he reportedly arrived in grave condition. The 9-year-old boy and the adult rider both had serious injuries, but they could be to other local hospitals for treatment. The man was listed in critical condition on Saturday, although the 9-year-old was in stable condition and was considered likely to be transferred to a more convenient hospital.
Polk County Sheriff’s deputies continue to investigate the accident, but had little immediate information to give. Officers did rule out alcohol impairment as a factor, however, and suggested the crash may have been caused by simple operator error.
Boat and personal watercraft accidents injure all too many Floridians every year. If you’re out to enjoy the sun and sea, be sure you completely understand how to properly operate your vessel or craft, and always take safety precautions. Everyone on the water should wear a personal floatation device, even strong swimmers. Don’t let a day of recreation turn into a day at the hospital — please put safety first on the water.
Source: Orlando Sentinel, “3 hurt in tubing crash on Polk lake,” Kevin P. Connolly, July 27, 2013