Victim Recounts Airboat Collision

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. - A scary experience for a vacationing family after what was supposed to be a fun outing turns into a nightmare.     

Last Friday night, two airboats collided in the West Bay area, sending 4 people to the hospital. One victim was a 7 year-old child. What started as a fun, family vacation,  quickly turned into the opposite after a crash out on the water. 

"We thought that this might be part of a show, that's how crazy it went. Then all of a sudden, it wasn't," said Airboat Crash Witness, TJ Silvers.

The Alabama family made reservations and were excited to ride the airboat. They were out on the water coming back in, when they collided into another airboat. 7 year-old Cason Stratton was sitting on the side where the impact happened. The boats collided and a piece of strap metal pierced his arm, breaking the arm.  

"It was scary, big time loss of blood. He actually had that piece of metal still protruding out of him and his arm," said Silvers. 

Officials with Wild Thang Airboat Tours said they contacted the Stratton family and have kept up with Cason's status. The company stands by the captains and said "They are very experienced and did the best they could in that situation to avoid a larger impact." 

Although shaken up, the family says they have no "ill will" against the company, but they don't plan on riding again anytime soon. 

"Our airboat experiences are over for our family. We'll never get back on an airboat," said Silvers. As for Cason, it's going to be a long road to recovery. 4 people in total were transported to the hospital. Others say they were bruised and sore in the days to follow. 

Officials with the airboat tour company said everyone involved in the collision was immediately reimbursed. The Coast Guard has given the all clear and business is running as normal. 

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