MADD holding event to honor man killed in boating accident

Published: October 20, 2020 7:45 PM EDT
Updated: October 21, 2020 4:46 AM EDT

Quarantine has people wanting to get out of the house and boating is the perfect way to do that. With increasing boat traffic, the organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving is warning about increased accidents on the water involving drugs and drinking.

They’re raising awareness through a fishing tournament to honor the life of one boy who died in a boating accident.

Kathy Kelly is grateful for a photo of her late son, who was an avid fisherman. “About 20 minutes later, after this picture, his boat was struck by an underage drunken boater and he was killed,” she said.

It was the last photo ever taken of her 23-year-old son, Dylan Gonzalez, before the 2016 boating accident.

Kelly says the man she saw in the hospital looked nothing like the son she knew. “I was not prepared for what I saw it was bad, it was really bad… I didn’t recognize him,” she said.

He died later that day. “I just… I wanted my boy. I wanted my baby. I didn’t care at what cost.”

Since his passing, Kelly has sprung into action to help other families. “I try to help others. I do share my story with offenders through MADD to help them understand the impact that their actions have,” she said.

Kelly and Mother Against Drunk Driving Southwest Florida want to raise awareness about the impacts of impaired boating, especially since the pandemic has seen a surge in new boaters. Their fear is that these new boats may be tempted to drink or do drugs while out on the water.

Their goal is to make sure that doesn’t happen. “Our singular goal, or vision, is zero. Zero deaths, zero fatalities, zero injuries and zero victims of impaired driving or boating,” she said.

By sharing Dylan’s story, his mom hopes to make this goal a reality. “Don’t drink and boat, it’s that simple. Don’t drink and boat,” she pleaded.

Next time you think about drinking and boating, Kelly wants you to remember her young son’s life and how it was taken too soon.

MADD is holding a socially distanced event in Dylan’s honor this Saturday called the ‘Fish Like MADD Tournament.’

It’ll be held in the waters at Panther’s Key near Marco Island.