14 injured, 2 critically, in Lake Panasoffkee airboat accident

By Sarah Panko, Sumter County Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, October 24, 2017, 8:06 PM EDT

Authorities in Sumter County are still not sure what caused the airboat accident that led to 14 people being hurt. But the Coast Guard is now investigating.

  • 14 people hurt in airboat accident on Lake Panasoffkee
  • 2 riders in critical condition β€” 1 airlifted to hospital
  • Sumter County Fire Rescue, FWC officers on scene

Nine people have been taken to hospitals. Three were taken to Ocala Regional Medical Center β€” one by air β€” and six others were taken to Leesburg, Sumter County Fire officials said.

The airboat launched from Tom and Jerry's Airboat Rides at 68 N. Main Terrace around 10:30 Tuesday morning and returned there with the injured people.

Officials say the airboat hit an object, but it's not known how it happened.

"Whether it was operator error, equipment malfunctions," said Officer Chad Weber with Florida Fish and Wildlife. "All different factors that can contribute to a boating accident."

Some people who live on the lake say the airboats are a nuisance out on the lake. However, Sumter County Commissioner Doug Gilpin tells us he's never gotten complaints until now. 

He will mention the incident at Tuesday night's commission meeting.

We reached out to Tom and Jerry's Airboat Rides. They say it was a steering cable that broke and it was not driver error but mechanical. β€‹The business said it would be closed until Thursday or Friday.