Wild Florida, a renowned natural and animal park, announced on Tuesday the temporary suspension of its popular airboat rides in the Everglades.
This decision comes in the wake of a collision between two airboats on Monday, resulting in 13 injuries, two of which are reported to be severe.
The park’s official statement on their website reads, “Airboat rides at Wild Florida are temporarily unavailable. However, our Gator Park and Safari Park remain open for guests and can be booked online or in person.”
— Wild Florida (@WildFlorida) August 16, 2023
The incident occurred around noon on Monday at Lake Cypress, located in Osceola County, approximately 40 miles south of Orlando.
The U.S. Coast Guard reported that there were a total of 30 passengers on the airboats at the time of the accident.
The specifics of how the collision occurred, as well as the identities and ages of the victims, remain undisclosed.
Local media outlets have reported that two individuals were airlifted to HCA Florida Osceola Hospital, while the remaining injured passengers were transported by ambulance to nearby medical facilities.
In a press release, Wild Florida stated that they are “fully cooperating” with the ongoing investigations led by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the U.S. Coast Guard, and other local and state authorities.
The park also mentioned that they are conducting their own internal investigation to determine the root cause of the incident.
An expert told local channel WKMG TV that such accidents are more common in the Everglades area than one might think. The region’s tall grasses create “many blind spots,” making it challenging for boat operators to see what lies ahead.
Despite the recent incident, the park’s website promotes the airboat rides as an “excellent way to experience a nature reserve from a new perspective.” The site highlights the vast array of animals and plants that make up the Everglades ecosystem. The statement further reads:
“Every time you head out on the water, you’ll see and experience something different with our experienced airboat captains spotting alligators, eagles, and other wildlife in the waterways near Wild Florida.”
Emphasizing their commitment to safety, the park assures that they provide life jackets and ear protection to every passenger.