Florida firefighter dies after power boat crash in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — UPDATE, 6/4/18: Lt. Mike Salber's girlfriend, Melanie Jeanie, is heartbroken from the tragedy.

“He’s Superman,” Jeanine said, fighting back tears. “It’s unbelievable. No one can believe it.”

Jeanine said a procession Tuesday will bring Salber home.

“He’s one of probably the last great, American heroes,” Jeanine said. “He was unbelievable.”

Action News Jax showed people video of the crash and many had concerns about the safety measures at these races.

“[The boats should be] spread out, there should be more rules, because that could definitely happen a lot of times just because they’re trying to get past them, and all that,” said Jadyn Roberson of Jacksonville.

But Jeanine said racers take on an element of risk and the organizers did plenty to keep it safe.

“It was his time,” Jeanine said. “It shouldn’t have been, but it was just his time.”

UPDATE, 6/3/18: The names of two more people injured in the crash Saturday have been released. Chris Mejias and his uncle Frank Silva were racers on the Frank and Al's Pizza boat.

Mejias suffered damaged tendons in his hand from the propellor and has had surgery to treat it.

Action News Jax's Courtney Cole spoke to the spokesman for the Sanford Fire Department. They are working with the Sanford Police Department to coordinate how they will honor Mike Salber.

Original story below:

Two boats crashed during the Jacksonville Grand Prix of the Sea on the St. Johns River on Saturday afternoon, sending four people to a hospital.

One of the people hurt was a Central Florida firefighter and he has reportedly died, Action News Jax learned Saturday night.

Sanford Fire Department said in a Facebook post that Lt. Mike Salber died after a boat crash Saturday. His Facebook account says he raced on the Rapid Building Solutions powerboat that crashed in Jacksonville.

Powerboat P1 director told Action News Jax's Brittney Donovan that it wasn't clear why the boats crashed during the third race of the day.

The other boat involved in the crash was the Frank and Al's Pizza boat.

One of the boats flipped during the collision.

Race coordinators did not have information about the other racers' conditions shortly after the crash and did not respond to calls and texts for updates.

The remaining races Saturday were canceled.

P1 Superstock USA series released the following statement:

Following a powerboat racing incident in the P1 Superstock USA series in Jacksonville yesterday, it is with great sadness that we announce the loss of one of the racers, Mike Salber - a Lieutenant in the Sanford Fire Department in Central Florida- who passed away from the injuries he sustained.

Three other racers involved in the incident received injuries and were taken to nearby hospitals. A further statement will be issued when more details are available.

Our thoughts are with Mike’s family, friends, colleagues and the powerboat racing community as a whole at this difficult time.

Raw viewer video: Boat collision on the St. Johns River

BOAT CRASH: A viewer shared this video of a boat collision during Jax Grand Prix of the Sea on the St. Johns River. Four people were taken to the hospital; we are working to get an update on their conditions: http://bit.ly/2J8QFRT

Posted by Action News Jax on Saturday, June 2, 2018