Two jet-ski riders killed in crash near Courtney Campbell Causeway

Drivers crash near Courtney Campbell Causeway

TAMPA, Fla. — Two people have died after two jet skis collided in the waters off the Courtney Campbell Causeway.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) officers are investigating the deadly crash that happened on Sunday evening.

FWC says Alberto Portales Fernandez, 42, of Tampa was the first person to die over the weekend. 

The other person, Helen Gore, 41, of Clearwater, who was driving another jet ski, was seriously injured and was treated for her injuries at Tampa General Hospital.

Gore eventually succumbed to her injuries Tuesday, May 8, say FWC officials.

FWC has not yet made it clear what they believe led to the collision, but witnesses tell ABC Action News that Fernandez was driving recklessly, possibly even facing the other way and at times sitting on the jet ski handlebars in the moments before the collision.

"It happened right in front of me," wrote Tim Diaz on Facebook. "He was riding it backwards sitting on the handlebars. A woman was sitting on an older ski idling, not moving. He hit her head on into the side of the ski," Diaz described online to the public group Florida Ski Riders.

"There is a mixture of madness out there every weekend, multiple ticking time bombs," Diaz wrote to ABC Action News when asked to describe the situation this past Sunday. Diaz owns his own jet ski and says Fernandez did too, and they are among several people who ride regularly in the waters around the Courtney Campbell Causeway in Tampa. 

"You have the rentals with the in-experienced riders and do not know the no wake laws, that’s one," writes Diaz. "You have alcohol involved and people racing and doing stunts, children swimming, jet skies and boats flying coming at you from every angle," says Diaz. "It’s been very scary out there. This will happen a few more times this Summer," he warns.

"They went from having a great time one minute to not being here anymore," says Ashley Martinez, another witness of the crash on Sunday.

"Since he was sitting backwards, anything that was in front of him he couldn't see because his back was turned towards it," says Martinez to ABC Action News.

"He accelerated and hit her. He flew off the jet ski and it looked like the jet ski might have hit him on the way down. Next thing you know he was floating in the water. A couple of other people that were on jet skis went to where he was at but didn't grab him out of the water immediately. They finally got him on the side of a jet ski they pulled him to shore," says Martinez, who didn't know either rider.

"He had no pulse. Bystanders were doing CPR until EMT arrived. When Helen was pulled out the water she didn't have a pulse but they did get her pulse to come back while doing CPR," says Martinez.

FWC says the boating accident investigation is active and ongoing.

The family of Helen Gore reached out to ABC Action News to say they are taking donations from the public to help pay for funeral expenses, and to pay for medical expenses from Gore's time in the hospital.

Gore leaves behind seven children, says her family.

For more on Helen "Teinell" Gore and how you can help her family, you can click HERE.

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