Airboat rides are not for the faint of heart.
Especially when the tour ends with the captain steering a passenger-filled boat into another, lunging into a bloody fist fight with a competing captain.
Last week two airboat captains from competing businesses were accused of launching into a shirt-ripping brawl on the waters near Everglades City, as their passengers recorded the action, Collier County Sheriff deputies said.
On Tuesday, Javier Lescano, 46, was arrested on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, battery, and reckless operation of a vessel.
Lescano, a captain at Captain Doug’s Everglades Tours, was heading back from a tour on the airboat trail when he passed within a couple of feet of another airboat operated by Henry Murphy, a captain at Everglades Island Airboat Tours. Rather that continuing to his dock, deputies say Lescano turned around and rammed into the back left end of Murphy’s boat.
Among the passengers on the boats were two children, deputies said.
In one of the three videos of the fight, Lescano is seen passing Murphy’s boat, but then turning around and striking it, according to reports. In that video, Murphy, attempting to get out of Lescano’s way, is seen heading for the mangroves, deputies said.
In another video, reports say the entire scene is captured and plays out like a scene from a movie:
Murphy’s airboat is in a little open water bay as Lescano’s airboat approaches. Lescano moves his airboat in front of the camera and starts to grab Murphy. He grabs Murphy’s shirt as Murphy tries to defend himself. Lescano loses his balance and drags Murphy into the water. Mud and water splatters onto the visibly-shaken passengers
Struggling to stand up in the muddy swamp water, both captains quickly returned to their boats, according to the report.
When reached for comment Wednesday, Murphy’s wife declined comment, saying she and her husband had retained an attorney.
“Never heard of anybody and captain out there acting like that,” Murphy told WINK News last week. “… He just snapped, I believe, and turned around and rammed my boat and endangered passengers on his boat and mine.”
Passengers described Lescano as “crazy” and said they “were in fear for their safety.”
Murphy told deputies Lescano had his airboat aimed at the middle, where the passengers were seated. After Murphy’s airboat was hit, it filled with water and Murphy said he was concerned it could sink. Moving his boat off to the bay, Murphy said Lescano punched him in the head, according to the report.
He told deputies Lescano’s face was filled with “rage.”
Murphy woke up the next day with “swollen, puss-filled eyes, neck, shoulder and back pain,” according to reports.
Murphy’s wife, Diane, who also works at Everglades Island Boat Tours, said she saw her husband return from the tour with “blood coming down his left arm and his shirt was all torn up.”
Deputies said Lescano caused $2,000 worth of damage to Murphy’s boat. He was not available for comment Wednesday, as he remains behind bars in the Naples Jail Center.