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Capsized boat gets towed to shore near Wiggins Pass

A serene beach near Wiggins Pass in Collier County saw some excitement this week as beach-goers watched a capsized boat get to shore.

The boat capsized Tuesday afternoon, according to Kimberly Mason, a paddleboarder who watched it happen.

“It was just sailing quietly and then, it just tipped over that quick,” Mason said. “Within minutes there were jet skis and then within five to 10 minutes, the police.”

Todd Klein usually rides his jet ski for fun. That Tuesday, his jet ski allowed him to help an injured man in a dire situation.

“You just do whatever you can do to help someone,” Klein said.

Klein says he was sitting on the beach when he noticed a boat sailing in the water. Then, a gust of wind came.

“All of a sudden, it just went right over,” Klein said. “I said, ‘All right, well, we got to go.”

Klein rode his jet ski over to the boat. The owner was injured with a broken arm and was still in the cold water. He and other boaters tried to wait for emergency rescue teams to help the man out of the water, but Klein says things got scary.

“He starts to say things like, ‘I can’t hold on any longer. I can’t hold on. I’m kind of fading in and out,’” Klein explained. “We decided we needed to get him out of the water.”

Klein and several other boaters pulled the man out of the water and waited for emergency response teams to take him to a local hospital. It’s something Klein says he would have done for anyone.

“We just try to do everything we could to help him as much as we could,” Klein said.

The U.S. Coast Guard, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office and North Collier fire rescue all assisted in the rescue of the boater once at the scene.

“It was pretty windy from the east and we saw the sailboat really going fast,” Mason said.

Virginia Wehlau said it must have been scary to be in the boat when it overturned.

“We used to own a boat and we were trying to figure out what you had to have been doing to capsize a boat like that,” Wehlau said.

Caroline McElvain watched through her binoculars from her balcony.

“It looked like its bow was in the water and the rudder was coming out the back and it was sticking up out of the water and we saw the police boat come by with its flashing lights,” McElvain said.

McElvain said she was glad to hear the boater was going to be OK.

“Never seen anything like this before,” she said. “I’ve been coming down here since I was like a baby.”

Reporter:Rachel Cox-Rosen
Breana Ross
Writer:Melissa Montoya
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