Friends and patients remember Fort Myers doctor killed in boat crash

Photo shared with WINK News.

On Friday, a beloved father was gone in an instant.

Dr. Omar Benitez died doing what he loved. Benitez was boating on Hendry Creek in Fort Myers when his boat collided with mangroves, and he was killed in the crash.

“His two small boys being left without a father knowing how much you love them, it was just sad,” friend Samuel Guirguis said. “Heartbreaking.”

The crash happened on the portion of Hendry Creek between Gladiolus Drive and Summerlin Road in south Fort Myers.

“That’s where he lived,” Guirguis said. “That’s where he [took] his boat. That’s where he went fishing. He knew those waters, and I’m 100 percent convinced that there was some other mitigating factor that caused this accident. I don’t believe he was being reckless.”

Benitez is a well-known urologist in Southwest Florida. He opened his own practice in Lee County last year.

Carolyn Pollauf said she has been his patient for 12 years.

“It was devastating,” Pollauf  said. “I couldn’t believe it. It’s probably had the impact that a dear friend passing away had because he was such a caring compassionate physician.”

Pollauf said she will always keep Dr. Benitez close to her heart.

“My husband had some health issues,” Pollauf said. “And he helped him tremendously through two different surgeries he had. He’s fine today thanks to Omar.”

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

Monday afternoon, U.S. Coast Guard and Lee County Sheriff’s Office announced a plan to board boats unannounced to perform safety inspections.

In 2017, the last year complete data was available, there were 766 boating accidents in Florida waters – 61 fatal.

Guirguis said he will remember Benitez as a friend and even better father.

“He was always talking about his two sons,” Guirguis said. “And to know that they’re going to be without their dad breaks my heart.”

MORE: Man killed in Hendry Creek boat crash identified

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