GOLDEN GATE ESTATES, Fla - Two people are dead after a boating accident in a Golden Gate Estates Canal.
Wildlife officials tell WINK News four people were in a small Jon boat when it capsized. Two people survived.
Investigators say one of the victims clung to the boat for hours before finally giving up and drowning. Four people were picking berries in a canal, when their boat capsized near Everglades Boulevard and 34th Avenue SE in Golden Gate Estates.
"It was clearly a case of carelessness to some degree because no one had a life vest and they did not know how to swim," says FWC Spokesperson Jorge Pino.
One of the four boaters, a man, was able to make it to shore to get help while the others held on for hours.
"The other man mentioned at some point he was going to give up and let go of the vessel and the other man held on for his life," says Pino.
Divers and a chopper searched for the man who let go and eventually found his body. Wildlife officers say the group was picking Saw Palmetto berries illegally for profit.
Pino says, "typically the berries are used for cancer research so they're not necessarily very valuable, but if you put a hard days work in you could probably make a decent amount of money."
A risky and fatal decision to fend for their families. "It's hard for me to comprehend that they would want to do that but if you look at their lives in a totality, to them sacrificing, trying to make it across a canal is worth it to them to try and do that," says Pino.
It is a second degree misdemeanor if you're caught picking Saw Palmetto berries illegally on private property. FWC officials say at this point they are not going to charge the two survivors.