PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35)
The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating after a man was seriously injured in Port Canaveral. Officials say the captain of small crew boat fell into the water as he was attempting to tie his boat to a dredge barge, the “Paula Lee.” He was then sucked into the propeller of his own boat.
Brevard County Fire Rescue initially described the extent of his injuries as a "bi-lateral double amputation below the knee." Authorities later said the man lost his right leg, below the knee, and his left leg was severely mangled. Witnesses told investigators the victim’s co-workers pulled him out of the water.
The Brevard County Sheriff's Office and Brevard Fire Rescue responded quickly, but officials say the captain's water safety protocol is what helped save his life. "This is another incident where he fell in the water, he had a life jacket on. He lost presumably both his legs, he could have lost his life had he not had a life jacket on," said Coast Guard Petty Officer Steven Lehmann.
The captain, who was not immediately identified, was transported by helicopter to Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne. It remains unclear if medical staff will be able to save his other leg. As he recovers, possibly as a double-amputee, Coast Guard officials have this to say about safety.
"The water can be a very unpredictable, and potentially hazardous place," said Lehmann, "and that's why we have a Coast Guard. We keep our eyes on the water and those whose livelihood depend on working around the water, keeping them as safe as possible."