The crash involving a personal watercraft and 30-foot vessel is the first fatal boating accident in Okaloosa County this year.
DESTIN — A 19-year-old woman visiting from Texas died Wednesday afternoon after a 30-foot boat collided with the personal watercraft she was operating on Choctawhatchee Bay.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating the crash.
According to a preliminary report from the FWC, the boat, driven by 76-year-old Johnny Pope of Shalimar, collided with a rental watercraft driven by 19-year-old Sarah Flanagan of League City, Texas. The report did not indicate who might have been at fault; it said only that the two vessels collided at a 90-degree angle.
Both vessels were on the bay just north of the Destin Army Recreation Area when the collision occurred, according to the report. Flanagan was thrown from the watercraft and Pope stopped immediately and called 911.
A person who was with the victim jumped in the water, pulled her onto his personal watercraft and took her to a nearby marina, where they were met by EMS.
Flanagan, who suffered extensive head injuries, was pronounced dead at Fort Walton Beach Medical Center.
The girl was riding with a group of people when the accident occurred.
Bryanna Brown, a 20-year-old Kentucky resident, was at Extreme H20 renting a watercraft when Flanagan was brought in.
"We heard some other people yelling on their Jet Skis and I saw them waving and stuff," she said. "And then they were signalling that they were going to pull in. Everybody moved out of the way."
Flanagan was between two men on a personal watercraft. They put her on the dock and another person checked whether she was breathing or responsive.
"I saw him about to start CPR," said Brown, who is a nursing student."I ran over so I could help him."
Brown did rescue breathing while another woman did chest compressions. After several cycles, the girl started to breath on her own.
"We kept talking to her, telling her to keep breathing," Brown said.
First responders arrived and took over.
After the accident, Brown and her group changed their minds about renting personal watercraft.
"We just left," she said. "We didn't want to do it after that."
Flannagan was wearing a personal flotation device, FWC spokeswoman Rebekah Nelson said.
There was extensive damage to the personal watercraft and slight damage to the boat.
The FWC report noted that there were no signs of impairment in either operator. Pope gave a sworn statement to authorities and consented to a blood draw. The accident is under investigation.
Wednesday's crash was the first fatal boating accident in Okaloosa County this year. In 2016, 22-year-old Avery Hatchett was killed and 19-year-old Anna Sorokina went missing and is now presumed dead after the boat they were riding capsized after hitting Destin's east jetty.