The administration of Gov. Rick Scott is mourning the loss of one of its former staff members. Former press secretary Jeri Bustamante died Sunday evening in a boating accident in the Florida Keys.
Bustamante, 33, was killed when the boat she was in crashed into mangrove branches along a narrow channel. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Bustamante died as the result of blunt force trauma.
“It is with true sadness that we learned today of the passing of our long time Press Secretary, Jeri Bustamante, who faithfully served in our administration for many years,” the governor and First Lady Ann Scott said in a joint statement. “Anyone who ever spent time with Jeri knows what a terrific and selfless person she was. Her personality filled rooms and hearts. We grieve with her family today.”
Bustamante was appointed press secretary in 2014. Prior to her joining the Scott administration she worked in the office of the Miami-Dade property appraiser where she served with Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera when he was that county’s property appraiser.
She recently left the Governor’s Office and was planning on joining the Scott campaign in the race for U.S. Senate.
“Jeri was a part of our team for many years,” said Lopez-Cantera. “She was a joy to work with and cared tremendously about her family, her career and the Floridians she served. I met Jeri when working as Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser and witnessed her passion for media relations firsthand. My family and I are grieving with Jeri’s family and those closest to her.”
The FWC says it’s still investigating the details of Sunday night’s crash. Officials say Bustamante was a passenger in the 18-foot boat when it veered out of the channel and into the mangroves. It’s not yet known what caused the vessel to veer off course. The channel has no speed restrictions.