Crowds for Memorial Day Weekend in the Florida Keys came out in force to enjoy three days of postcard weather -- but not everything was good.
There were a traffic fatality and a serious injury to a person being towed on the water on an inflatable. And state marine officers arrested 19 people -- 11 for drunk boating, including a father and son, one right after the other.
Traffic was heavy on both U.S. 1 and nearshore waters, with backup stretching from traffic lights and boat ramps.
The most serious highway accident of the three-day weekend came at 12:29 a.m. Saturday, when a tractor trailer and Toyota Corolla collided at mile marker 38, near the southern end of the Seven Mile Bridge.
The head-on crash killed Toyota driver Akira Ito, 42, of Norcross, Ga., and critically injured passenger Yue Ding, also of Norcross. Ding was taken by helicopter ambulance to Ryder Trauma Center in Miami. Her condition was not available at press time.
Just before the crash, a Peterbilt tractor-trailer driven by Eduardo Rodriguez, 43, of Marathon was traveling south and the Toyota was headed north on U.S. 1.
"For an unknown reason, a head-on collision occurred on the northbound lane," Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Kathleen McKinney reported. "It is unknown at this time if alcohol was a factor in this crash."
Ito was the ninth person to die on Keys roads this year. Traffic was light at the late hour of the collision and vehicles were routed around the scene.
Saturday, a man riding an inflatable towable device behind a personal watercraft was seriously injured near Duck Key.
"Basically the PWC slung him into a marker, causing serious head and facial injuries," said Officer Bobby Dube, information officer for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The victim, described as an adult male, was airlifted to a Miami hospital. His name and condition were pending completion of the accident report.
"For all the boats out there, it was pretty much a great weekend overall," Dube said. "It was busy as ever. We had some other minor accidents but none involved death or serious injury."
With the weather fostering generally calm seas, popular anchoring spots drew huge crowds as always on the long Memorial Day Weekend.
"It was beautiful," Dube said. "The only waves out there were from boat wakes."
The Sandbar spot at Whale Harbor, near mile marker 84 in Islamorada, attracted "hundreds of boats and probably over 1,000 people," Dube said. "There were a few fights."
FWC marine officers made 19 arrests, 11 of them for boating under the influence.
In one Whale Harbor case, Officer Paul Hein was preparing to charge Gustavo Salvia, 28, of Miami with operating a boat while under the influence.
"Then another boater approached, screaming and yelling at our officer," Dube said. "Officer Hein determined the second boater was obviously impaired."
Gustavo Salvia, 50, father of the first boater, also was taken into custody on a BUI count.
Another man, apparently stranded at the Sandbar when his friends left, was charged with theft after he took an anchored kayak and started rowing toward shore. The kayak owner flagged down officers.
Monroe County Sheriff's Office deputies reported a fairly peaceful weekend, agency spokeswoman Deputy Becky Herrin said.
"There was very heavy traffic but the flip side of that is it keeps severe accidents to a minimum," she said.
Northbound traffic Monday saw considerable backups at intersection lights, "sometimes going back miles," Herrin said.
"People were warned to expect that so we didn't really hear a lot of complaints," she said.