HERNANDO BEACH – A Blue Pelican Marina employee had both legs severed Thursday after a boat forklift overturned, striking the man prior to falling into the channel near the Hernando Beach boat ramp.
As forklift operator Gordon Wolf, 54, of Hernando Beach approached the seawall, the forklift fell into the water and struck James Runyan, 54, of Hudson, who was standing on the dock. The sheriff’s office said Runyan was pinned between a chain link fence and the forklift, knocking him into the water.
He was flown by helicopter to Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point’s trauma center, and is listed in critical condition.
A sheriff’s deputy on site said the call came in just after 8 a.m.
Hernando Beach Fire Chief David Freda and his crews were first to arrive and help Runyan.
“I don’t know how that happened, but the forklift fell on its side and the forks had severed both his legs,” Freda said. “He was in the water, and my guys at Hernando Beach and me got there first, and got him out of the water.”
Freda said prior to arrival, they sent out an Urban Search and Rescue call, because the department did not know if he was trapped or lost in the water.
“We’ll probably get a status later on him, and see how he is doing,” he added.
The sheriff’s office said the workers were completing work on a private boat launch, north of the Hernando Beach boat ramp.
Witnesses saw the men working on and measuring the left wheel stop of the boat launch, and the boat forklift was being used to complete some of the measurements. The sheriff’s office said the case remains open.