Girl, 13, dies in boating mishap

A 13-year-old Naples girl died last Friday evening offshore of Cudjoe Key after suffering injuries from a boat propeller, police said.

“The father was driving, unfortunately,” said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Officer Bobby Dube.

Harlie Smith died at Lower Keys Medical Center, according to Dube, who said the incident had no signs of negligence.

“Just a very unfortunate circumstance,” Dube said.

George Smith, who turned 49 on Monday, was driving the 31-foot Boston Whaler with his wife, daughter, 11-year-old son and nephew at about 5 p.m. about a half-mile south of Lois Key, on the oceanside of Cudjoe when the girl got caught up in the propeller, Dube said.

Paramedics met the family at Venture Out, after the family called a towing service to help direct them to the site, Dube said.

But, June Smith, the girl’s mother, said her family didn’t call for a sea tow.

“We begged for help,” Smith said Tuesday. “We did not call for a tow boat, we reached out for medical help in any way possible. That’s the honest truth. We were told we had to get there and we moved as fast as we could. I just prayed for medical help.”

Smith said authorities told her there were two Coast Guard boats on the water and they were both busy.

“I never knew we were helpless on the water,” Smith said.

The Keynoter reached out to FWC on Saturday morning but information was not made available until Monday.

Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen