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'Get 'em out!': Video captures moment pontoon boat nearly crushed under South Florida drawbridge

It's the third incident involving a drawbridge in Florida this year.
Credit: thequalifiedcaptain/Instagram

JUPITER, Fla. — A group of boaters in South Florida is lucky to be alive after the pontoon boat they were on was nearly crushed by a drawbridge.

The scary moment was caught on camera in a video that has made the rounds on social media. In the video, you can see the boat stopped under Cato Bridge in Jupiter when the spans of the bridge began to move.

A woman and man can be seen on camera jumping from the boat as it appears to get stuck under the drawbridge's open/closing mechanism. Others can be seen staying on board while another man in the water is struggling to hold on to the side of the pontoon boat as it raises up in the air. 

"Get 'em out! Get out!" a woman's voice can be heard saying off-camera, followed by "Is he OK?" A man's voice can be heard exclaiming "oh my god!" as the scene unfolds. 

"Get out of the boat. Get out. Why are they still in there?" A woman's voice could be heard asking later on in the 48-second video.

The two men in the water are seen eventually being able to climb back onto the boat. It's unclear if anyone was injured during the incident but the pontoon appears to have sustained damage.

Jillian Pisciotta, who captured the video, tells 10 Tampa Bay that she and her friends were in shock and didn't know how to react. She says after being nearly crushed, the boat was able to drive away but "ended up being tilted."

"I thought everyone was not going to make it," Pisciotta told CBS12.

A Palm Beach County spokesperson said the boat had tied up to the bridge's pier and that instead of going through the bridge's main channel it passed under a section with signs labeled: "Unauthorized Personnel Prohibited," "Danger Moving Machinery" and "No Trespassing."

The spokesperson also noted the bridge tender was unaware a boat was underneath the bridge at the time and had "no knowledge" until a supervisor contacted him the next day. The Miami Herald reports Jupiter police have no record of the incident.

It's the third accident involving a drawbridge in Florida in 2022. In February a 79-year-old bicyclist fell to her death when a drawbridge connecting Palm Beach to the Florida mainland started to rise before she could reach the other side. 

Then in March, an out-of-state motorcyclist was cited after crashing through a Daytona Beach drawbridge flashing stop arm and nearly riding over the edge as it was being raised. Police say the only thing that saved the motorcycle from the waters below was the hitch of the trailer it was towing. 

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