South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday)

One boat in PortMiami crash an llegal charter, according to Coast Guard

- By David Goodhue

One of the two tour boats involved in a crash that injured 13 people near PortMiami, one critically, was operating as an illegal charter, the Coast Guard said Wednesday.

Sunday’s crash prompted a large, multiagenc­y emergency response, with patients being taken to area hospitals, including Jackson Memorial in Miami.

The captain of the Obelix, a 43-foot, luxury center-console vessel powered by five engines, wasn’t licensed to have paid passengers on board, a violation of the Passenger Vessel Safety Act, said Petty Officer 3rd Class Eric Rodriguez, a spokesman for the service.

That boat, and the 55-foot Thriller 06 speed boat that operates out of Bayside Marketplac­e and can carry 36 passengers, collided around 3:15 p.m.

The Obelix is operated by Midnight Sun Boat Charters, which, according to its website, began in 2014 with day charters in the U.S. Virgin Islands and has since expanded to Miami.

The boat leaves out of Haulover Marine Center.

The company’s owner, State Jakab, told the Miami Herald in a text Wednesday that he is discussing the issue with investigat­ors but disagrees with the Coast Guard’s finding.

“It is our position that we were operating within the terms of a legal charter,” Jakab said. “Furthermor­e, we have not been informed officially by Coast Guard of such a finding or decision.”

One of the passengers injured in the crash was taken to the hospital in critical condition, Rodriguez said.

It was not immediatel­y clear which boat that person was on.

Rodriguez said the Coast Guard issued a “vessel safety inspection requiremen­t” on the Thriller 06, meaning it cannot conduct passenger operations until the damages it sustained in the crash can be repaired.

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