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Authorities ID boat operator who fatally struck 15-year-old Ella Adler

Operator identified in Biscayne Bay boat crashed that killed 15-year-old girl
Operator identified in Biscayne Bay boat crashed that killed 15-year-old girl 02:52

MIAMI - The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission identified the boat operator in connection to the death of 15-year-old Ella Adler, who was struck while water skiing in Biscayne Bay on Saturday.

Authorities say Carlos Guillermo Alonso, 78, of Coral Gables, was the boat's operator.

They say he was the only occupant of the vessel on that day, according to the one-page incident report.  

The boat was discovered behind a home in the Hammocks Oaks neighborhood in Coral Gables. Neighbors described the man who lives in the home as a family man and an experienced boater. They said he was devastated by what happened.

Rodney Barreto, the Chairman of the FWC,  said this about Ella's death, "It's touched our community in a way." 

"When you're 15 years old you don't expect to go out on a boat and not come home." 

The new preliminary FWC report says she had been on a boat with 12 other people and was being towed while on a wakeboard. 

Records show Alonso owns the house where the vessel was seized.

"The gentleman who was driving the boat who is cooperating with us is Mr. Alonso," said Barreto.

"We have some physical evidence that we have recovered that we have sent to our state lab for testing." 

Barreto says officers used witness descriptions to find the boat.

"It was good old-fashioned police work by our officers. 
We asked them to go up and down the canals from Coconut Grove to South Miami. They went up and down the canals with the physical description they had and recognized the boat." 

Batteto said there was no evidence pointing to reckless or drunk driving.

It's not known if the driver will be cited or charged.

"Our job is to gather information and present it to the State Attorney, so they can do their job." 

The loss of Ella Adler prompts this warning from Barreto: "Make sure you pay attention to the water and always look around because things can happen on the water and they can happen very quickly."

"We encourage people to use a lot of caution and go to boating safety schools." 

"Florida has the most registered boats in the country and Miami-Dade has the most registered boats than any county in Florida."

Boat seized in investigation into death of Ella Adler. CBS News Miami

Ella, the granddaughter of US Ambassador to Belgium Michael M. Adler, was water skiing with friends Saturday near the Nixon Beach sandbar when she fell in the water while being towed and was struck by another boat. The operator of that boat never stopped.

An all out search was then launched to find the boat and driver.

On Wednesday, Florida Fish and Wildlife believed they had found it. 

"I am pleased to report that we have a vessel in custody that matches the description given by witnesses," said FWC's George Reynaud. "The boat is in our custody and the owner is cooperating with us."

On Monday morning, hundreds of people attended services for Adler at Temple Beth Sholom in Miami Beach.

On Tuesday, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden stopped by in person to offer her condolences and be with the family.

"We are honored that the First Lady paid a shiva call to our family during this time of immense pain. We are touched by their support and love and we are proud to call the President and First Lady our friends for over 40 years," according to a statement from the family.

Adler was a freshman at Ransom Everglades High School and a ballerina with the Miami City Ballet.

"We are heartbroken," Ransom Everglades posted on Facebook. "Ella Adler '27 shined in our classrooms and on our stages, and she embodied the mission of Ransom Everglades School. We wish peace and comfort to her family."

"We at Miami City Ballet and the Miami City Ballet School are utterly devastated by the heartbreaking news of this tragic accident," said the organization which described Adler as a beloved student and a magnificent dancer who graced their stage. "Our hearts go out to Ella's family, friends, and everyone who had the privilege of knowing and adoring her. As we come together, we will profoundly grieve the loss of Ella, and hold dear the precious memories we were fortunate enough to create with her."

"We extend our deepest condolences to the Adler family at this difficult time," the US Embassy to Belgium said in a statement. "Out of respect for their privacy, we have nothing further."

Anyone who saw the accident or anyone who might have video footage or information about it is urged to call the Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS (8477).

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