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Owner Of Sunken Party Boat Speaks Out About Incident

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Salvage crews spent Tuesday attempting to raise a 45 foot catamaran sunk in Biscayne Bay. The boat owner is still trying to figure out what happened Sunday afternoon, when 30 passengers had to make a swim for it. Thankfully nearby boaters came to their rescue.

Otho Campbell told CBS4 that there is a hole in the boat.

"Clearly it hit something," Campbell said. When asked whether he thought it was an over capacity issue Campbell said he didn't think so.

"No. No. We've had 45 people on there many times. We had 30. I think we counted 32 including me or maybe 31. But there were life jackets for everybody.  No issues on the way, or at the sandbar or on the way back just started taking on water." Campbell said.

Campbell, a boat dealer by trade, has logged a lot of hours on the water over the years.  He says he throws parties on his catamaran at least twice a month.  His response to allegation Florida Fish and Wildlife officers made that he may have been careless on the border of reckless on the water. "I sure hope not. I've been doing this for years and I've never had an injury and I have had parties. Hundreds, literally hundreds of parties in the last decade."

Sunken party boat as seen from Chopper 4 on Monday, Oct. 14, 2013. (Source: CBS4)

FWC is investigating claims passengers made they paid $20 for the Columbus Day weekend party, something only licensed captains and charters can do.  Campbell admitted he's not a licensed captain but that he did not have paying passengers on board.  Campbell explained "I received nothing from them. I have parties all the time and I have been mistaken for that for years."  He said 80 percent of the people on the boat had been on the boat before.

"There is no advertising.  There is no promotion.  It's all people that I know.  Always.  Just a party."

Campbell says he's sad everyone lost their belongings like phones and wallets in the water, but he's relieved everyone made it out safely.

"It's a wakeup call for sure.  Doing that and people drinking and really getting rowdy with a lot of people, it's just a matter of time before something happened and I'm just really really lucky that it wasn't worse," Campbell said.  He told CBS4 that Sunday will likely be the last time he'll take that boat out.  In fact it cost so much to salvage it, the salvage company will likely get to keep the boat.

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