Harrison County

What started as a fun day on the water ended in tragedy for Gautier man

Spectators watch personal watercraft on the Mississippi Sound in Gulfport in 1998.
Spectators watch personal watercraft on the Mississippi Sound in Gulfport in 1998. sunherald.com/File

A Gautier man drowned during a medical emergency after a wave caused a personal watercraft to overturn in the Mississippi Sound, an official said.

Donald Broadnax, 22, was able to right his watercraft, but passed out from a health issue and fell face-down in the water, Harrison County Chief Deputy Coroner Brian Switzer said. He was wearing a life vest but was unresponsive when he fell.

Broadnax and three friends had rented the small pleasure crafts on the beach in Biloxi. The four were riding two watercrafts when a wave overtook them, Switzer said.

They were in waters south of Eisenhower Drive.

Broadnax and his female passenger were able to get back on their wave rider before he passed out and fell in the water, Switzer said.

A man who rents the personal watercraft noticed the others trying to help him and dialed 911 for a distress call.

The state Department of Marine Resources and the Biloxi Fire Department responded.

They put him in a boat and took him to the old Broadwater marina, where an ambulance took him to Merit Health hospital, Switzer said. Broadnax died at 4:30 p.m.

Switzer has ruled his death an accidental drowning.

Broadnax's female passenger also was taken to the hospital, where she was treated and released. He said no serious injuries were reported.

Robin Fitzgerald, 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews
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