Media Advisory

For Immediate Release:

May 7, 2019

Media Contact:

Lidia Amoretti

[email protected]


South Florida Man Nearly Killed in Father’s Day Boating Accident Returns to Ryder Trauma Center to Reunite with the Team That Saved his Life


Jonathan Cruz, former Ryder Trauma patient
Jessica Cruz, wife
Joyce Kaufman, MD, UHealth trauma surgeon at Ryder Trauma Center
Fernando Vilella, MD, UHealth orthopaedic surgeon at Ryder Trauma Center
Lt. Terrance Dolan, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and good samaritan
Air Rescue Miami-Dade Fire


On June 17, 2018, Jonathan Cruz, his wife, toddler twins, and other family members were celebrating Father’s Day while boating off the coast of Elliot Key in Biscayne National Park.

“We were out on the sandbar, cooking, and just enjoying the day,” said Cruz. “After a couple of hours, we decided to leave because the current was very strong.”

As they prepared to leave, the boat next to them got stuck in the sandbar. Cruz and his cousin offered the help the neighboring boater, when things went terribly wrong.

“I was in the water, and I wasn’t behind the boat yet, when all of a sudden something pulled me in,” said Cruz. “All I remember was me trying to hold on to the motor, and then I blacked out.”

Cruz’s legs were mangled by the boat’s propeller. Good Samaritan and off-duty Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Lieutenant Terrance Dolan was on a boat nearby, and quickly jumped into action to help Cruz. He immediately asked family to stuff Cruz’s legs with towels to help control the bleeding, while he placed an IV on Cruz.

Cruz was immediately airlifted to Ryder Trauma Center, where he underwent surgery. He spent the next 14 days in a coma. Cruz suffered severe injuries to his right leg, gluteal muscle, bones, tissue, and rectum. He remained hospitalized for four months, and underwent physical and occupational therapy.

Over the last year, Cruz has undergone more than 30 surgeries to save and reconstruct his leg, as well as rectum. He continues outpatient physical therapy at Jackson Rehabilitation Hospital.

“I’m learning to move my right knee again,” said Cruz. “Although amputation is still being considered, I remain hopeful and I feel lucky to be alive.”

During a press conference on Wednesday, May 8, Cruz will be reunited with Lt. Dolan, as well as the Miami-Dade Fire air rescue crew, and the Ryder Trauma medical team that helped save his life.

“I’m so thankful to all the people God put on my path on that day,” said Cruz. “Everyone at Jackson was great. They’re all angels. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for all of them.”

The Cruz family has created a GoFundMe account. If you would like to help, please visit this link.


10 a.m., Wednesday, May 8, 2019


Ryder Trauma Center
Room 103
1800 N.W. 10th Avenue
Miami, FL 33136

Editor's Note:

Media can park in media lot of Ryder Trauma Center.

Jackson Health System

1611 N.W. 12th Avenue Miami, FL 33136