ROYAL PALM BEACH, Fla. - Charges are not expected to be filed against the man operating the boat that capsized this weekend off the Florida Keys, according to new details released Tuesday by Florida Fish and Wildlife.
Jorge Gonzalez of Royal Palm Beach is one of the seven people who survived out at sea after the boat the group was on capsized.
"He survived, man! He's a miracle already," said Sebastian Acuna, a close family friend.
Jose Miguel de Armas and his 4-year-old daughter, Fabiana, are among the group that survived. Florida Fish and Wildlife says that until the body of 79-year-old Zaida Gonzalez is found, the investigation will be at a standstill. 4-year-old Fabiana, however, is already emerging as the standout of the group.
Jack Nicar, who knows Fabiana and Fabiana's family, describes her as a sweetheart.
"She always keeps them on their toes," said Nicar.
Florida Fish and Wildlife confirms that Fabiana was the cheerleader of the group. Spokesman Robert Dube says she told them during their 20-hour wait for help, "we're going to be okay" and "we're going to be found."
"That sounds like her. She's always happy-go-lucky and laughing all the time," said Christina Pettigrossi, who also knows Fabiana and Fabiana's family.
Despite conflicting information, Florida Fish and Wildlife says the 4-year-old was wearing a life jacket at the time of the incident.
"On a vessel under 26-feet, a child under 8 is required to be wearing that life jacket," said U.S. Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer John Gatti.
The group was on a 22-foot Wellcraft. Off camera, a family member of the Gonzalez family says they are very nervous and sad, but they will be fine. In the end, it may be partly thanks to little Fabiana, who kept them going.
Florida Fish and Wildlife says no charges are expected to be filed because Fabiana was wearing a life jacket and because there's no way to tell what safety gear was on the boat before it capsized. Chief Warrant Officer John Gatti of the U.S. Coast Guard goes on to say, at least in Florida, there must be a life jacket on board for every person taking the voyage. Dube says the boat was registered to a woman named Elena Fernandez. She was not on board the vessel during this trip.
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