Sailboat operator's fall accidentally activated gear, leading to deadly crash in Sarasota Bay, officials say

While the operator of a youth sailing practice vessel was helping another sailboat operator, he lost his footing, setting off a chain of events that eventually led to the tragic death of a 10-year-old, investigators said.

The boat crash occurred Saturday morning in Sarasota Bay. According to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, it appears the operator of a 20-foot vessel, which was involved in the practice, was helping the operator of an 8-foot vessel who was having issues with his boat.

While assisting, the operator of the 20-foot sailboat fell, which led to the vessel being activated into gear. The operator was thrown from the vessel, investigators said.

Unmanned, the vessel traveled forward, striking several sailboats that were involved in the youth sailing practice, FWC reports. Eventually, the operator gained control of the vessel.

Sarasota Bay

By then, investigators said two juveniles had non-life-threatening injuries. A third child, Ethan Isaacs, passed away from his injuries.

On Sunday, the principal of Pine View Elementary sent a message to families letting them know the boy who died in Saturday's boating accident was a 6th-grade student at the school.

READ: Sarasota County student identified in deadly sailboat accident

“It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that we are informing our Pine View community of the loss of a Pine View 6th grader, Ethan Isaacs, in a tragic sailing incident yesterday," the message said. "Our thoughts and prayers go to the Isaacs family, and we express our sincerest condolences for their loss."

FWC said the investigation is still in its early stages and is asking anyone who witnessed the sailboat accident to call their Wildlife Alert Hotline at 1-888-404-3922.