A 53-year-old Key West boat captain was arrested Tuesday on a charge of vessel homicide after state wildlife police said his recklessness on the water killed a woman in October 2023.
Daniel Anthony Ross was the operator of a 22-foot center console on Oct. 6, 2023, with six people on board, when he crashed into a channel marker while running the boat at about 25-30 mph in Safe Harbor Channel, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The crash’s impact caused Misty Dawn Wildmon, 46, of Key West, to hit the channel marker, its steel pile and then the boat’s engine cover before she was ejected into the water, FWC said in a statement released Feb. 6.
The group was returning from a memorial service held on a sandbar near Jewfish Basin when the boat struck the channel marker.
FWC officers on Feb. 5 arrested Ross and he was booked into the county jail on Stock Island.
Ross, whose occupation is listed as marine repair, was arrested at 7281 Shrimp Road. He was released from jail on the same day after posting $100,000, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office website.
After the crash, the other occupants on the boat helped another injured passenger while Ross navigated the boat back to the channel marker, where Wildmon was found unresponsive in the water.
Wildmon was pulled from the water and taken to a local hospital, where she later died from her injuries, FWC said.
“The reckless operation of Mr. Ross’s vessel caused the senseless death of Ms. Wildmon,” said South Bravo Regional Commander Major Alberto Maza. “Our thoughts remain with her family and friends during this difficult time.”
According to a GoFundMe page created for Wildmon’s family after the crash, she is survived by three children and a grandchild.
“Misty had this knack for making everyone feel like they mattered,” Christie May wrote on the page. “She’d light up any room with her laughter and always had a listening ear. She was that friend who remembered little details about your life, made you feel calm and welcomed always, and was there for you during the 2 a.m. kind of crises.”