ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A man who died in a Fourth of July accident on Lake Butler was trying to climb onto a boat when the captain turned on the engine, striking the man with the propellers, according to 911 calls released Friday.
A man who saw the accident said the man, identified as 25-year-old Nickaloy Dunstan Thomas, had been on a raft but when that blew away, he tried to get on a boat. He said Thomas appeared almost as if he was close to drowning.
"He was attempting to board another boat and I screamed over at the captain of the other boat because the other boat was about to take off and I screamed over to the captain, 'You've got somebody climbing onto your boat,' but he had already hit forward on the boat and then he went into neutral, saw the guy and dove in the water to grab him. So they've got a couple of guys holding him to the transom of the boat but he's dead weight, they can't lift him onto the boat," the caller said.
He was about 100 feet away as he spoke to a 911 operator.
"I don't know because we have bad weather so I can't pull up to the boat without endangering somebody else. It does not look good, though," he said.
The witness said he didn't believe Thomas knew the occupants of the boat and he was unsure where his friends or family were since he appeared to be alone.
He narrated the situation to an operator for nearly nine minutes. Two children also witnessed the crash.
"My captain tells me he sees they put a life vest on him so that's helping him to float but he does not look like he's conscious, so chances are he's lost a lot of blood," he said.
Around eight minutes into the call, the witness said he believed Thomas was dead.
"My captain just told me they don't have a pulse so we might have a really bad situation on our hands," he said.
The man stayed in the area and provided light on the scene until first responders arrived.
Orange County Fire Rescue spokesman Mike Jachles said five people who were on the 23-foot boat near Bird Island were still attempting to help the man when they arrived.
"The people in the boat that struck the man were still next to him, holding onto him, trying to render whatever aid they could,” Jachles said.
No further details about the accident have been released.