Fort Lauderdale

1 Teen Killed, 3 Critical After Boat Crash in Fort Lauderdale

One teen was killed and five others were injured after the boat they were riding in collided with a bridge in Fort Lauderdale early Thursday.

The 13-foot boat around midnight struck the bridge on the south fork of the Middle River, at Dixie Highway and Northeast 18th Court, authorities said. 

The teen who died was identified by friends as 17-year-old John Baker, a varsity football player at St. Thomas Aquinas High School. None of the other teens have been named.

Three of the injured were taken to Broward Health Medical Center in critical condition. Another teen left the hospital early Thursday and the fifth teen remained at the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The boat struck several places on the bridge and was wedged between the bridge and the ground, officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said.

"Several of them were standing up, several were sitting down at different parts of the bridge unfortunately, there's not just one particular area that they hit," FWC spokeswoman Amanda Philips said.

Phillips said it appeared that not all of the teens had a seat on the boat.

"When the collision happened, it almost did like a pinball affect," Phillips said.

Baker's friend, Brett Bartholomew, said the teens were all starting their senior year at St. Thomas Aquinas next week.

Bartholomew said he was supposed to be on the boat with his friends Wednesday night and had planned to meet them later.

He said Baker was his best friend and that they go boating nearly every day.

"Great, upbeat guy, always fishing out on the boat with us," Bartholomew said.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

Officials said the teens involved in the crash had permission to use the vessel, but have not said how the teens know the owner.

In addition, the teen operating the boat had a Boating Safety Education Identification Card, according to officials.

A community vigil was planned for Thursday at 6 p.m. at St. Thomas Aquinas High School, and another on Friday at noon.

Community members also gathered along the coastline on Thursday evening to hold vigil for Baker and release balloons in his honor.

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