Vero News

More details released in fatal Sunday head-on airboat crash

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission law enforcement officer on water patrol. FWC photo by

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — A Vero Beach man killed in an airboat crash and a Sebastian woman who was seriously injured were both identified by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers Monday. Both were jolted into the water after their boat struck another airboat head-on, an FWC report shows.

“The Florida Fish and Wildlife would like to offer its condolences to the family of the deceased individual during this difficult time,” FWC spokesperson Chad Weber said.

The wreck happened on a single wide vessel airboat trail. The trail had a sharp blind curve, which is where both airboats collided, reports show.

FWC officers said 63-year-old Mark E. Veillette was taken to Sebastian River Medical Center, where doctors pronounced him dead. Louise C. Brierton, 53, was flown to Health First’s Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne with traumatic injuries.

Brierton suffered a fractured skull and cuts to her head, reports show. It was unclear if Brierton had been released from the hospital Tuesday.

FWC officials said three other people on the second boat were not hurt. Those people were James A. Wright III, 40, Erika Wright, 36, and a 10-year-old, all of Vero Beach, reports show.

The collision happened about 3 p.m. Sunday at the East Marsh – St. John’s Water Management Land in unincorporated Fellsmere. The crash site was off of C.R. 512 and not far from the Garcia Boat Ramp, Indian River County Fire Rescue officials said.

Veillette was operating a 12-foot-long Outlaw Airboat with Brierton as a passenger, reports show. Wright III was driving a 15-foot-long Diamondback Airboat where Erika Wright and the 10-year-old were passengers.

The airboats were heading in opposite directions when the two vessels collided, ejecting Veillette and Brierton, reports show. Wright III and a good Samaritan jumped into the water to help Veillette and Brierton, FWC officials said.

Veillette and Brierton were taken to Garcia Boat Ramp. Indian River County Fire Rescue crews then took both patients to hospitals.

FWC officials said next of kin of the crash victims have been notified. None of the crash victims were wearing personal floatation devices during the incident, reports show.

The collision remains under investigation.

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