7 rescued from overturned airboat

Seven people clung to an overturned air boat as they awaited rescue from a tour boat operator in the St. Johns River on Thursday, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife officials. 

The accident happened around 11 a.m. several miles downstream of Lake Washington, near Melbourne. 

"I got a phone call," said Captain Mike Tipton, owner of Melbourne Air Boat Tours. "There were seven people in the water, the boat was on the bottom, and they asked if I could help."

Tipton, who has runs air boat tours at Lake Washington Park for the past 30 years, said he is not associated with the private owner of the air boat that overturned on the St. Johns. But he says the seven people who were stranded on the boat were grateful for the rescue, since alligators were swimming about 100 yards away from the boat at the time.

"They said 'Thanks, we appreciate it!' and they helped buy my gas."

FWC said there were no serious injuries, and the cause of the accident involving the private air boat owner is not known.  Captain Tipton says he sees airboats flipped from time to time, and the cause is often because it's too top heavy.