BOAT RACING: Investigations begin in fatal tournament accidents

BOAT RACING: Investigations begin in fatal tournament accidents

(c) 1995 Copyright
(c) 1995 Associated Press

KEY WEST, Fla. (Nov 9, 1995 - 20:30 EST) -- Marine authorities began investigations Thursday into two accidents at the Key West World Championship that left one offshore power boat racer dead and three others hospitalized.

Wind and sea conditions at the time of the Wednesday accidents were well within racing parameters, officials of Super Boat Racing, which runs the event, said Thursday.

The event's final heat will go on as scheduled Sunday, said SBR president John Carbonell.

"Unfortunately this sport is very dangerous," Carbonell said. "As a former racer, I know your life is on the blade of the sword at all times out there and anything can happen. Maybe that's why a lot these guys want to race."

Two racers remained hospitalized in critical condition and another in stable condition Thursday.

Carlos Gonzalez, 35, of Miami, navigator of Mr. K/Frank's Marine, was airlifted to Miami's Cedars Medical Center after his 33-foot boat slammed into a wave and broke apart about 3 1/2 miles southwest of Key West.

The boat's throttle man, Jose Fereira, 41, of Miami, was pronounced dead on the scene. Funeral services for Fereira are scheduled for Friday.

The boat's driver, Rolando Garcia of Hialeah, was in stable condition at Lower Florida Keys Health System hospital.

James Finkl, 32, of Chicago, was in critical condition with head, neck and shoulder injuries. He was injured in a separate collision of two boats and was airlifted to Cedars.

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