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Crestview boy remains in critical condition after being hit by a boat propeller
A 12-year-old Crestview boy is still in critical condition after being hit by a boat Saturday evening. The boat kept going, and left the scene of the accident on Choctawhatchee Bay.
This stretch of Choctawhatchee Bay between Niceville and Freeport is fairly shallow for a quarter-mile offshore. Saturday evening, Drew Barefield and his father were enjoying the last bit of daylight.
Dad was cast-netting for mullet, while Drew snorkeled a little further out. About 7:40 pm, a light-colored boat with a black motor hit the boy, and kept on going.
Javier Canut/firefighter "Call came in as a 12-year-old boy who got hit by the propeller of a boat."
Firefighter Javier Canut and his team rushed to the scene. He says Drew's dad was holding onto his boy in the bed of a bystander's pickup truck.
Javier Canut "Didn't affect me right at the call, lot of adrenalin going on, primarily focused on trying to save the boy's life, you know. But afterward hit us pretty hard."
Chuck Vinson is a father too. He can't help wondering what if.
Chuck Vinson/Choctaw Beach "I got kids from seven years old to sixteen. They swim the same waters. I just thought man, it could have been my kid, you know... all those thoughts go through your head."
A spokesperson for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission says it's not known yet whether the driver was aware he struck someone. Vinson says it would be tough for a boater not to know.
Chuck Vinson "I think he would know. If you hit just a small stump, you're going to hear the motor.... the sound of it's going to change, you're going to feel a knock, you know.... I believe you gotta know."
FWC says a few people have come forward with leads, which investigators are following up.
Laura Hussey "If you have any information about this incident, you're asked to call Fish and Wildlife's Wildlife Alert Line." The number is 888-404-3922.