Soccer fans in Mississippi and around the country will be sad to learn that Anton Walkes was killed in a boating accident on Jan.19. The 25-year-old Charlotte F.C. defender lost his life when the personal watercraft he was traveling on struck another boat in the vicinity of Miami Marine Stadium. Walkes was in Florida to attend preseason training sessions as his team prepared for the upcoming MLS season. Before joining Charlotte F.C., Welkes played for the English Premier League club Tottenham Hostspur.
According to a preliminary report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Welkes was the passenger on an eastbound Yamaha personal watercraft that struck a northbound 46-foot Scarab speedboat. The force of the collision ejected Welkes from the personal water craft rendered him unconscious, but he was quickly recovered by Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department paramedics who were dispatched to the scene. The paramedics transported Welkes to a nearby trauma center, but he was pronounced dead at 3:25 a.m. on Jan. 10. The 46-year-old man who was operating the speedboat and the 32-year-old woman at the controls of the personal water craft escaped the accident without injury.
The causes of the fatal boating accident are under investigation, but alcohol consumption or drug use have not been ruled out as possible contributing factors according to the preliminary report. If toxicology tests reveal that the operators of either of the watercraft involved were under the influence at the time of the accident, they could face criminal charges and a personal injury lawsuit.
This tragic accident shows how important it is to wear a life vest and helmet while traveling on the water. An afternoon of fun ended in disaster, and the life of a promising young athlete was cut short. If any of the parties involved were impaired at the time of the crash, they should be held responsible in both criminal and civil court.