Woman’s death prompts Fort Lauderdale boat ramp warnings
Fort Lauderdale City officials are prompting to install warnings at all-night boat ramps, after the death of a woman who drove into the New River, late one January night. The warnings are a way of keeping the boat ramps from becoming death traps for lost or unsuspecting motorists.
The body of Lisa Hayden-Gordon, of Wilton Manors, was found on February 27, in her submerged car, near Cooley’s Landing boat ramp. The 51-year-old piano instructor known as “Miss Noodles,” disappeared on January 24, after attending a nighttime concert at Revolution Live. Last Thursday, a friend of the victim, Laura Sue Wilansky, told members of the city’s Marine Advisory Board that she was shocked by how easy it was to drive from the ramp where Southwest Seventh Avenue into the sharp curve over the New River. “Just a few seconds from a major street, there are literally no barriers — no gate, caution signs, speed bumps, chain, reflectors — nothing to keep anyone from driving right into the water,” Wilansky said. The City’s Marine Facilities manager,
Andrew Cuba, told Wilansky that is changing. Cuba said, the city is purchasing reflectors, signage and rumble strips to be installed at seven ramps at the city’s three, 24-hour boating facilities: Cooley’s Landing, George English Park and Cox’s Landing 15th Street Boat Launch.
“That’s a good first step,” said Adam Matza, another of Hayden-Gordon’s friends who attended the meeting. The friends are seeking safer boat ramps and asking the city to provide better lighting at the ramps and to add ramp gates so there are physical and visual barriers to keep nighttime drivers from accidentally driving into the water.
Sally, Lisa Haydent-Gordon was not the first to go into the New River from Cooley’s Landing. Late one night in August, around 4:30 a.m., two women were rescued in an SUV fell into the New River, after the driver thought she was turning onto an Interstate-95 entrance ramp, but went down a boat ramp instead. In 2005, taxi driver Loriston Charlin died in his submerged vehicle, after his car went in the water at Cooley’s Landing around 1:30 a.m. In 2001, Heather Munroe, resident of Oakland Park, was killed in a submerged van after it was driven into the river at about 2 a.m. The city of Fort Lauderdale marine facilities seeks to change this dangerous ramp and prevent any further injuries or deaths.