The force of the boat collision that killed two Stock Island men Sunday cut the boat several feet down its center line, an indication that the driver didn't see the concrete piling, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The 1999 Flats Bay boat slammed into the piling at 9:30 p.m. under the Boca Chica Bridge, just a few inches off center, said FWC Lt. Roy Payne. How fast the boat was going is under investigation, but it did have a 150 horsepower outboard motor.
The crash killed driver Stuart Chase Barber, 28, and Gabriel "Gabby" Carlos Gonzalez, 35. Gonzalez was found about an hour after the crash and flown to Ryder Trauma Center in Miami. He died there about 6 a.m. Monday.
Barber's body was found about two hours after the wreck; he apparently died upon impact, said FWC Lt. Bobby Dube.
The Monroe County Sheriff's Office was first to respond after someone called 911, Dube said. They were followed by the FWC and the Coast Guard. Investigators found nothing out of the ordinary with the bridge that might have caught Barber off-guard, Payne said.
"There was nothing new on the bridge or any other hazards that were different," Payne said. "That bridge has been here a long, long time. Longer than most of the people who live here."
The death of the men, both fathers, shocked the Stock Island community, said Eric Castellanos, a friend to both men and owner of Stock Island Fades Spa on Third Avenue. Gonzalez was a barber at Castellanos' shop, where Barber -- a Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority employee -- was a regular customer. Both took their sons to the barbershop as well, Castellanos said.
The tragedy might have been worse -- the men had just dropped off their children at Key West Harbour Yacht Club and were on their way to Key Haven to dock the boat, Castellanos said.
"They all wanted to go back together, but Gabby told everyone to stay there at the harbor and he and Chase would come back and pick everyone up after they docked the boat," Castellanos said.
Gonzalez leaves two boys, Gabby Jr., 10, and Darien, 7, Castellanos said. Barber leaves behind a son, Tristen, who is about 3 years old, Castellanos said. Barber was married to Berenice Barber.
Flowers and candles adorned the barbershop window Thursday and it has remained closed since the crash, Castellanos said.
Mike Heller, a friend of both men and a barber at Stock Island Fades Spa, said Gabby influenced a lot of the young men who came in to get their hair cut. Heller was once one of those young men.
"He tried to steer us away from trouble," Heller said. "We were like brothers."
The men and their families were regular fixtures at Snipe Point on Sundays, Castellanos said. That is where they had been the day of the crash, Castellanos said.
"We're a family, very close-knit," Castellanos said. "Everyone who comes to the barbershop, we lean on each other and help each other. It's a shame we have to lose friends and family to realize how short life is."
Friends of Gonzalez and Barber are holding two fundraisers to help their families.
The first will be at 9 p.m. Saturday at Stock Island Fades Spa, 5630 Third Ave., where a mixed martial arts pay-per-view fight will be screened, and the shop will be taking donations, Castellanos said.
There will also be a family-day event at Bayview Park at 10 a.m. July 14, with food and bounce houses for children.