POINT PLEASANT BEACH — A fatal boating accident led to the cancellation of the highly anticipated Offshore Grand Prix boat race along the Jersey shore.

News 12 New Jersey in a tweet reported one person was killed and two people severely injured in the accident on the south end of the beach.

Crowds on the northern inlet where boats come through for the race
Crowds on the northern inlet where boats come through for the race (Kristine Brown)

Witness Kristine Brown told New Jersey 101.5 it was surreal  as word spread quickly through the crowd of the crash, and the mood turned somber among spectators.

Brown said she saw one boat being towed back to shore.

The U.S. Coast Guard said they are sorting through the details before issuing a statement. Townsquare Media's Ray Taylor said a NJ State Police helicopter landed at nearby Point Pleasant Beach High School.

The race, which started at noon, is sponsored by the New Jersey Powerboat Racing Association, runs a small 4 mile "oval" that comes as close as 150 feet to the beach.

The tradition of the boat race goes back over 40 years, according to the Association's website and has been known by a number of names including the Hennessey Offshore Grand Prix, the Benihana Offshore Grand Prix and the War at the Shore.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.

More From 92.7 WOBM