Water scooter pins girl against boat

Published May 21, 2007

TAMPA - A 4-year-old girl was in critical condition Sunday after she was hit by a water scooter and pinned to the back of a boat near the Courtney Campbell Parkway.

Trinity Mycel Stivers of Tampa was in the water holding onto the back of an anchored 25-foot boat about 2:15 p.m. Sunday when her uncle accidentally hit her with a water scooter, said Tampa police Sgt. Alan Draffin.

Ariel Jesus Garcia, 40, of Tampa was driving a personal watercraft slowly toward the boat and trying to stop when he hit the girl, Draffin said, adding that the girl was briefly pinned against the boat.

"It's just a tragic family accident, " Draffin said. "He didn't realize he had that much forward motion."

Trinity wasn't breathing when family members pulled her from the water, Draffin said.

Rescue workers performed CPR and she was breathing again when she was transported to St. Joseph's Hospital, Draffin said.

She was listed in critical condition after surgery. Draffin said she may have sustained significant internal injuries.

Water scooter accidents are increasingly common in the Tampa Bay area, Draffin said. "People don't realize boats and Jet Skis don't have brakes."

Sunday's accident happened about 150 feet offshore, south of the Courtney Campbell Parkway and west of Ben T. Davis Beach.

The girl was leaning on the back of the boat with her elbows, munching on a snack when the watercraft hit her, Draffin said.

Investigators from the Tampa police marine unit impounded the boat and water scooter at a parkway boat ramp on Sunday afternoon. Neither craft sustained significant damage in the accident, Draffin said.

No charges were filed against Garcia, but Draffin said he could be charged with careless operation of a water scooter. "It depends on the condition of the little girl, " he said.

Trinity Stivers' father, Derrick Stivers of Tampa, was with the girl at the time of the accident and went with her to the hospital. He could not be reached for comment Sunday.

Catherine E. Shoichet can be reached at cshoichet@sptimes.com or 813 661-2454.