Hurricane Eta: Homosassa man loses live-aboard sailboat when it slams into Matlacha Bridge

Kaitlin Greenockle
 
| Fort Myers News-Press

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Man loses live-aboard sailboat when it slams into Matlacha Bridge

Christian Monzon, of Homosassa, was attempting to help a friend when winds from Hurricane Eta dragged his live-aboard sailboat under the Matlacha Bridge.

Christian Monzon, of Homosassa, was attempting to help a friend when winds from Hurricane Eta dragged his live-aboard sailboat under the Matlacha Bridge.

Four hours later, he remained worried, watching as crews attempted to secure and remove it in winds reaching above 35 mph. 

ā€œIā€™m losing my boat the longer it stays there,ā€ Monzon said.

The incident closed the bridge, preventing people from leaving or arriving on Pine Island mid-morning, as rescue crews feared the mast would snap, falling into traffic. Around noon, deputies re-opened one lane and moved traffic through.

More: Hurricane Eta: Lee County schools to dismiss kids early today as Category 1 storm approaches

Monzon said he lives on the boat when he stays in Matlacha. He went to help a friend when the winds started pushing both boats toward the bridge. He escaped on his dinghy and tied it behind the Bridgewater Inn.

He tried to retrieve the sailboat, but couldn’t reach it quickly enough.

Deputies told Monzon he couldn’t board the boat, but he got on for a few moments, retrieving his keys and a guitar, he said. 

They tied up his friend’s boat on the inn’s dock. The waves battered the boat into the dock, causing minor damage, said Bridgewater Inn General Manager John Tobin.

The inn features a dock that extends into Pine Island Sound, with its rooms facing the water and bringing dolphins and manatees almost to the door.

Related: Tropical Storm Eta loses steam off Southwest Florida coast, still bringing more heavy rain, wind

The incident shuttered the inn for about four hours, with officials telling Tobin his workers could return. The inside of the inn was unaffected.

 The winds and waves were pulling at the dock, causing minor damage, he said.

Tobin noted that many local people were volunteering to assist with the boats, as well as Matlacha/Pine Island Fire and Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

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Video: Crews on scene after sailboat crashes into Matlacha Bridge ahead of Hurricane Eta

Crews were on scene after a sailboat crashed into the Matlacha Bridge ahead of Hurricane Eta on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020.

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