Key West - Two separate offshore powerboat racing accidents left one Miami racer dead and two others in critical condition Wednesday, Nov. 8, at the first of two heats that comprise the Key West World Championship.
Jose Fereira, 41, throttleman of Mr. K/Frank's Marine, was pronounced dead at the scene after his 33-foot catamaran tripped on a wave and slammed, front first, into a wave at 80 mph, according to David Di Petrillo, the medical and safety director for Super Boat Racing, the event's coordinating sanctioning body. One other victim, Miami resident Carlos Gonzalez, 35, was transported to Lower Florida Keys Health Systems hospital in critical condition and then airlifted to Cedars Medical Center in Miami. A third person in the boat, driver Rolando Garcia of Hialeah, Fla., was listed in serious condition at Lower Keys.
The Mr. K accident occurred near turn #1, an area of the course that race director John Carbonell had cautioned drivers to be careful of.
I told them (during two separate drivers' meetings) they were going to run into a brick wall," Carbonell said. "I warned them during the first few laps to take it easy and get the feel of the course.
"Unfortunately, the world championship is for all the marbles. Some of these guys take a lot of chances to win the world title."
In a separate incident, Chicago resident James Finkiipscomb, driver of Black Shadow, was also airlifted to Cedars Medical Center in critical condition with head, neck and shoulder injuries after his 30-foot boat was struck by Zerodefect, a 45-foot Open class boat piloted by Laith Pharaon of Theodore, Al.
There were no injuries to Zerodefect crew members and Black Shadow's throttleman, Jerry Stark of Delray Beach, Fla., escaped without injury.
Di Petrillo termed the medical response time for both accidents as outstanding but said in the case of Fereira the injuries were too severe for any treatment.
"It was a very violent accident," Di Petrillo said. "After the boat tripped and stuffed, the boat literally exploded apart. We had paramedics on scene within seconds, but unfortunately the injuries were so severe the patient did not survive."
Marred by the tragedy was the performance of racer Stuart Hayim of Great Neck, N.Y., who drove Recovery to an Open class win. Anticipating a fourth consecutive world title, Hayim was satisfied with his 76.5 mph average speed, but his win was definitely tempered by the days events.
"I would trade last year's victory and this year's to do this (the race) all over again," said Hayim, who turned in the best performance of the entire fleet of 130 registered boats. Buenos Aires driver Daniel Scioli won Wednesday's Superboat class, piloting his fin-tailed, mono-hull La Gran Argentina at an average speed of 76.1 mph around the 10.1-mile, 15-lap race course. Jack Carmody of Austin, Texas, placed first in the Modified class with Carlos 'n Charlies with an average speed of 64.32 mph.
The final race of the World Championship is slated for Sunday.
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