Woman dies fending off boat from bridge piling

McArthur Causeway - bridge where the tragic incident happened
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One of the early lessons that aspiring sailors need to learn is the very real danger of using part of your body to fend off, mishandle a loaded winch, or any other task where one could lose a finger - or a life. This week, as if tragically exemplifying the lesson, a young woman has lost her life when she tried to fend off a bridge piling to prevent the boat she was travelling in colliding with it.

The incident happened in Florida. Investigators are looking into the circumstances surrounding the death of a woman killed after the boat she was passenger in slammed into concrete pilings underneath the McArthur Causeway bridge.

Janette Africano, 35, suffered severe blunt trauma to the head or body and died after being rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center.

Africano and her boyfriend had been pleasure boating minutes before the 5 p.m. incident on the Intercostal Waterway near PortMiami, authorities said.

The accident occurred as the couple, traveling in an 18-foot white and red boat, were heading south. As they approached the MacArthur bridge, there was a cruise ship making a turn ahead of them. At that point, the couple decided to turn back north, said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Jorge Pino on Sunday.

But the currents near the bridge were rough and the couple began drifting toward the pilings. Africano apparently tried to stop the boat from colliding. However the boat violently slammed into the piling, fatally injuring her.

Pino said the accident is considered 'unusual' because it involves a single boat and neither excessive speed or alcohol appear to be a factor.

No charges have been filed as of Sunday as investigators piece together what occurred.

'We’re looking at every possible cause, including mechanical failure and the experience of the driver,' Pino said
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