Four were killed and several seriously injured in the Fourth of July Dinner Key boating tragedy, when a 32-foot Contender powerboat slammed into the side of a 36-foot Carrera. But the carnage might actually have been worse if not for the heroic response of a marine tow crew, which was among the first on the crash scene and brought the circling, unmanned Contender under control in the dark water.
Photo by Kristin Bjornsen
Now Vincent Morenza, a crew member on the Atlantis Marine Towing and Salvage boat, tells Riptide -- in his first interview about that night -- that he and the boat's captain, Burt Korpela, had watched the fireworks from the water; they were relaxing and waiting for the usual rush back to shore to end when they heard chaotic calls about the crash over the VHF radio. When they arrived on the scene less than five minutes later, Morenza glimpsed through the darkness a boat going in circles around 25 or 30 mph, barely lit, and with its stereo on full blast.
"Man, it was eerie," Morenza says.More »