Airboat rolls over; operator dies
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Media contact: Joy Hill, 352-258-3426
Law enforcement officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) are investigating a fatal airboat accident that happened Tuesday morning on the Rodman Reservoir in Putnam County.
Phillip Howard Taylor (DOB 05/22/47) of Hawthorne was the operator of the vessel and died in the accident. Raymond Allen (DOB 09/15/61), who was visiting from New York, suffered minor injuries and was transported to Putnam Community Medical Center in Palatka. The two men had planned to go fishing.
The accident happened at around 8:30 a.m., after the men launched an airboat at the Orange Springs boat ramp in Marion County at 245th Street and County Road 315. After traveling about a half-mile into the reservoir, the airboat took a sharp right turn and rolled over, ejecting both men into the water.
Allen was wearing a life jacket and held on to Taylor, using a cooler to assist him in holding Taylor above water while they yelled for help. Someone in a canoe heard them and paddled out to help. Allen clung to the canoe and Taylor as the canoeist paddled toward shore. As they neared shore, a pontoon boat arrived, and the occupants put the men onto their boat and took them to shore. Taylor was unresponsive and was pronounced dead at the scene.
An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death. Investigators are trying to locate the sunken airboat.