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Fisherman dies after boat capsizes off St. Pete, survivor speaks out

Posted: 11:02 PM, Sep 25, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-25 23:18:04-04

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Pinellas County Sheriff's Office is conducting a death investigation after two men capsized in a fishing boat near the Skyway Bridge. 

"All of a sudden you're out there having a good time and things turn over in an instant," said Steve Smith. 

Smith, 62, went fishing for snapper Tuesday morning with longtime friend Robert Kleinman, 59. 

According to the sheriff's office, Smith and Kleinman were in the fishing boat when they were struck by a series of large wakes made by passing vessels. The boat started filling with water and capsized. 

"The waves were so abrupt that it came over the front of the boat and it went inside the boat and it started sinking down," said Smith. "When I got the motor and looked back he was gone. He was ten feet from the boat and I couldn't reach him. And he just kept going."

A bicyclist riding on the bridge spotted the overturned boat and called 911. Smith says he was clinging to the motor for 30 minutes before help arrived. 

Paramedics transported Kleinman to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg hospital where he was pronounced dead about one hour after falling into the water.