Girlfriend of boat crash victim speaks out about tragic accident - 7News Boston WHDH-TV

Girlfriend of boat crash victim speaks out about tragic accident

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23-year-old Jason Soleimani 23-year-old Jason Soleimani
39-year-old Dayanara Arias and her two daughters 39-year-old Dayanara Arias and her two daughters

MIAMI (WSVN) -- A South Florida woman involved in the deadly Fourth of July boat crash near Dinner Key spoke out about the tragic accident that killed her boyfriend and sent her and four other family members to the hospital.

Officials said Heather Hanono, 23-year-old Jason Soleimani and several members of Hanono's family were on board a 2005 36-foot Carrera center console vessel, one of three boats involved in the collision that, authorities said, took place Friday night on Biscayne Bay, about three miles south of the Rickenbacker Causeway.

Hanono, 22, said she was seated next to Soleimani on the boat when, shortly after the end of the fireworks display, one of her brothers noticed a boat was heading directly for theirs. "My brother Sean said to my brother [Elias], 'Eli, there is a boat, and it is coming, right, straight head on,' and my brother cut it, and it hit Jason's side, and I was sitting right next to Jason," she said. "So, by Jason being hit, it saved my life, but that was my world. My Jason was everything."

Officials said Soleimani, a resident of Old Westbury, New York who was visiting Hanono to spend the holiday weekend together, was killed upon impact. His body was recovered the next day.

Authorities said the accident also claimed the lives of 23-year-old Andrew Garcia, 20-year-old Victoria Dempsey and 24-year-old Kelsie Karpiak, who, they said, were on board the boat that collided with the Hanonos' vessel.

Hanono and four of her relatives were injured. "My brother, who was the one driving, he is all bruised. He has cuts on his eyes," she said. "My other brother is in the hospital. He broke his jaw and his arm."

The most critically injured of Hanono's relatives was her sister-in-law, 39-year-old Dayanara Arias, who suffered a head injury. "My sister-in-law is at Jackson [Memorial Hospital] in the trauma [center], and she had bleeding in the brain," she said.

Miraculously, Dayanara's two young daughters were not hurt in the collision.

According to a relative, the quick actions of Elias Hanono, who was driving the boat, prevented an even worse tragedy. "He actually saved his whole family," said Mike Rodriguez, Elias' brother-in-law. "He made sure his daughters were OK. He was able to lift his console up to reach his brother and his wife."

Hanono dislocated her shoulder, but she said the greatest pain was losing Soleimani. "From day one, I fell in love. He was the love of my life. He was the only person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, and he did anything for me."

As the Hanono family continues to recover from their injuries, they said they hurt for those families affected by the tragedy, as they mourn the loss of Soleimani. They said the 23-year-old was two weeks away from proposing to Hanono, who was planning to move to New York to be with her boyfriend.

Soleimani was scheduled to fly out to New York on Sunday. Instead, his body was taken back to his family.

Hanono and her mother, who suffered a broken nose as well as cuts and bruises, were released from Mercy Hospital Sunday afternoon.

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