GULF BREEZE, Ala. (WALA) - The waters here in the Santa Rosa Sound are often calm and inviting, but officials said they contributed to a terrifying boat accident that left one man dead and several others injured.
Officials said it all began around 2 p. m. on March 31, 2013 when the 42-foot speed boat was moving through the waters off the shores of Gulf Breeze.
"The boat apparently hit a wave and went airborne. When it came down, it literally broke apart into hundreds of pieces. A portion of the boat is actually still at the bottom of the sound," said Stan Kirkland with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
According to Stan Kirkland with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the deceased has been identified as Gary Lowry, 61, who lived in Alabama and Florida.
Officials said Lowry's son and daughter-in-law, Scott and Stephanie Lowry both 42, were injured in the wreck. A family friend, Lauren Williams of Pensacola, 33, was also injured.
"The good thing is there were quite a few witnesses. They rushed to the scene and pulled all five victims out of the water," Kirkland said.
The four survivors were transported to local hospitals.
Officials said Lowry lived in both Alabama and Florida and actually has a home in Lillian, Alabama.
Lowry's neighbors said they were shocked and saddened by the news of his death.
Neighbors said Lowry kept to himself but he was very friendly. They said he was often seen outside working on his home.
Officials said they're still trying to figure out what went wrong.
"This is a little unusual. We don't know if the accident was perhaps due to prior damage to the boat. We don't know why it would have broken apart. But it was a horrific accident," Kirkland said.
The unidentified woman was airlifted to the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital and her condition is unknown.
The Gulf Breeze Police Department, the Coast Guard and the Gulf Breeze Fire and Rescue responded and helped transport victims.
Kirkland said they are still investigating why the boat broke apart and will release information when it is available.
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