Florida ballerina, 15, killed in hit-and-run boat crash in water-skiing accident

Authorities have found a boat matching the description of the one that fatally struck a 15-year-old in South Florida on Saturday.

Ella Riley Adler was water skiing off Key Biscayne near Nixon Beach around 4:30 p.m. when she was struck by a center console boat with a light blue hull that sped away from the scene, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) announced. 

“She was wearing a life vest, as well as the ski boards on her feet,” FWC spokesperson George Reynaud told WSVN.

A first responder said via radio transmissions that there was “a lot of blood in the water,” the outlet reported. 

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The boat is in custody and the owner is cooperating with the investigation, which remains open, FWC said Tuesday.

“Our community suffered a great loss this Mother’s Day weekend,” said FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto. “I would like to thank all our officers and those from various law enforcement agencies who have worked and continue to work tirelessly on this investigation. The FWC and its officers have called in additional resources from other parts of the state and have worked around the clock to find the vessel involved in the accident.”

The 15-year-old was celebrating a friend’s birthday on a family boat at the time of the crash. 

“The boat has multiple white outboard motors and may have blue or dark blue bottom paint,” FWC said.

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Authorities said there is a total reward of up to $20,000 for information about the vessel and boater involved in the crash, including $5,000 from Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers. Witnesses have been asked to come forward to the FWC. 

Adler was a student at Ransom Everglades School, and a member of its dance team. The high school freshman had been cast as a ballerina in “The Nutcracker” and had appeared in more than 100 performances with the Miami City Ballet at the Adrienne Arsht Center, according to her obituary. 

“When she walked into a room, everyone was drawn to her,” her family wrote. “She loved to dance, she loved her friends, and most of all she loved her family.” 

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Adler’s family wrote that she took pride in her Jewish heritage. 

“She was the great-granddaughter of Holocaust survivors,” her family said. “She loved Israel and came from a long line of Jewish leaders with a strong commitment to faith and tikkun olam.”

Dozens of the girl’s friends left emotional tributes on her obituary page. 

“At the beginning of this year when Ella joined the dance team, never would I imagine the impact she would have on me,” friend Lauren Scott said. “From her smile to her contagious laugh, when Ella walked into the studio there was no way not to share her joy.”

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“No one had ever made me feel so confident in myself or so happy to go to school, knowing that I was going to see her,” friend Emma Fayad wrote. “She had a way of making you believe everything she said, because you knew that you could always trust her and confide in her. I never thought that I would have to say goodbye, especially so soon. I will miss you so much, and I can only hope that you rest in peace.”

In a statement, the private school wrote that Ella was “a wonderful dancer, served on the speech and debate team, and was a member of the Jewish Student Association,” and that she “was a treasured friend to many.” 

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levina Cava extended her condolences to the Adler family on X, writing that the public should “honor her memory by exercising better boat safety to ensure tragedies like this never happen again.”