Vessel seized in investigation into death of Ella Adler, killed by boat ...

14 May 2024

Ella - Figure 1
Photo CBS Miami

By John MacLauchlan, Teri Hornstein, Peter D'Oench

Updated on: May 14, 2024 / 1:20 PM EDT / CBS Miami

FWC officials seize "vessel of interest " in investigation into Ella Adler's death

FWC officials seize "vessel of interest " in investigation into Ella Adler's death 01:57

MIAMI - A boat suspected in the death of 15-year-old Ella Adler in Biscayne Bay over the weekend has been seized by Florida Fish and Wildlife officers.

On Saturday afternoon, Adler was water skiing with friends 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.

Investigators said it's unclear if the driver knew that they hit the girl. A search for the boat began immediately. 

"The FWC and its officers have called in additional resources from other parts of the state and have worked around the clock to find the vessel involved in the accident. I am pleased to report that we have a vessel in custody that matches the description given by witnesses and the investigation is ongoing," said FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto.

Ella Adler Adler Family

The owner of the vessel is cooperating with the investigation.     

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

Robert Strauss, a family friend, told CBS News Miami's Peter D'Oench, "I don't know if he was drunk. I don't know if he was not paying attention. But you need to pay attention to the waters and open water like you pay attention to the street."

On Tuesday, the Adler family issued a statement through their attorney Etan Mark.

"The world lost a star this weekend. Ella was beautiful and shined brightly. In her 15 years she gave us more light than we could have ever dreamed. While we cope with this unspeakable tragedy, we ask the public to give us our privacy as we mourn."

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

Loren Pearson, a close family friend, said his daughter was with Ella when it happened. He said the two girls were best friends and they are devastated.

"It's a tremendous loss. She had such a bright future. Just very sad. Very sad," he said."It comes in waves. Together with friends. It doesn't make any sense."

Pearson remembers Ella as a shining light in the community.

"A great dancer. My daughter's best friend," he said. "Happy, friendly, always a smile. That's how I remember her." 

On Monday afternoon, the Miami City Ballet issued the following statement:

"We at Miami City Ballet and the Miami City Ballet School are utterly devastated by the heartbreaking news of this tragic accident. Ella Adler was not just a beloved student and a magnificent dancer who graced our stage in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker; she was an integral part of our family, radiating potential and promise whose kindness, warmth, and infectious joy were known to all. 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." 

The FWC said while significant progress has been made, this investigation remains open and the public's assistance is still needed. 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).

In: Boat Accident Miami

John MacLauchlan

John MacLauchlan attended Florida State University and graduated with a Communications degree. He joined the CBS News Miami digital team in February 2007.

Read more
Similar news
This week's most popular news