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college graduate died airboat accidentGraduations should be a time of joy and celebration, especially when you are a distinguished student graduating at the top of your class from a well-known University. A graduation should never be a time of tragedy, especially when the disaster could have been prevented. As always, our hearts go out to the families of those who suffer unnecessary pain and suffering due to preventable personal injuries and wrongful deaths.

According to the Miami Herald, Elizabeth “Ellie” Goldenberg graduated from the University of Miami with her degree in musical theatre on Friday and died a day later at the age of 22. She was involved in an airboat accident in the Florida Everglades on Saturday morning. Multiple passengers were thrown from the airboat with resulting injuries, but Elizabeth was the only fatality.

Elizabeth’s parents and 20-year old sister were with her on the airboat while visiting from Pennsylvania. When reached for comment, family members gave away few details on how the crash occurred, stating that it’s currently under investigation. On Monday afternoon, Goldenberg’s mother, Renee Flax-Goldenberg, spoke with the Sun Sentinel by telephone.

“I’m a mourning mother … and it’s a criminal investigation, so it wouldn’t be appropriate for us to speak about the circumstances in which she died.”

According to the National Park Service, Everglades National Park averaged more than one million visitors per year for the past five years. For Everglades visitors, airboat tours are one of the most popular activities and are operated by well-known companies like Everglades River of Grass Adventures and Captain Jack’s Airboat Tours. While airboat safety can be impacted by factors such as weather and water levels, crashes are fairly uncommon and can usually be avoided with a skilled and experienced captain. That’s why the death of young Elizabeth Goldenberg is so shocking.

florida airboat crash fatal

Abramowitz, Pomerantz and Morehead, P.A. partner, Charles Morehead III, is an airboat hobbyist with more than 43 years of experience driving in Florida’s Everglades. Mr. Morehead says that this accident could probably have been prevented if the driver had exercised more caution when captaining the boat in areas with low water levels.

The loss of Elizabeth Goldenberg is a tragedy, and we hope it brings awareness to the licensing, training and experience required for airboat captains. With increased safety measures, this situation could be the catalyst to save lives in the future. Our thoughts are with the Goldenberg family at this difficult time.