Ozark, Alabama – The Ozark community is in mourning after the tragic and unexpected passing of friendly and beloved 64-year-old resident Gary Tibbetts. The news of his death has shocked his friends and loved ones, with heartfelt tributes pouring in on various social media platforms.
Gary Tibbets was a familiar face in Ozark, known for his friendly demeanor and close connections with many in the community. His sudden death has sent a wave of grief throughout the city.
Tibbetts had a passion for boating, as evidenced by his active presence on Facebook, where he frequently shared glimpses of his life. Most of his posts revolved around his enthusiasm for boating, showcasing his love for the water and the outdoors.
The heartbreaking news of Gary Tibbetts’ passing was first shared on Facebook by a close acquaintance who posted photos and wrote, “My heart is heavy this morning. Gary Tibbetts, who lives across the street from me in Ozark, was killed in a boating accident last night. He was a great friend of mine. RIP Gary.”
The accident that claimed Gary Tibbetts’ life occurred on Saturday, September 9, 2023, in Apalachicola, Florida, on the Apalachicola River. The incident also left 61-year-old William Hardwick critically injured.
According to Florida Fish and Wildlife, the accident transpired when Hardwick was operating his vessel on the Apalachicola River’s East River Cut-Off, with Tibbetts as a passenger. An attempt to pass another vessel resulted in a collision with its wake. Hardwick’s vessel subsequently crashed into the south bank of the East River Cut-Off, colliding with overhanging tree branches.
Tragically, Gary Tibbetts was pronounced dead at the scene by EMS personnel. The off-duty Houston County Sheriff Deputies, who were traveling alongside the two men on separate boats, immediately rendered emergency medical treatment, including CPR, in a valiant effort to save lives.
The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are actively investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident. The entire community is deeply saddened by the loss of Gary Tibbetts, and condolences are extended to his family and friends during this difficult time.
Major Fred Rondeau, FWC Northwest Regional Commander, expressed heartfelt condolences, saying, “With heavy hearts, we would like to offer our condolences to Mr. Tibbetts’ family and friends. We ask that everyone touched by this accident keep them in their thoughts as they navigate this time of loss.”
The investigation into the accident is ongoing, and further updates will be provided as they become available.