UPDATE: 13 boat crash victims released from hospitalA forty-five foot boat. Sixty miles per hour. Horsepower exceeding 1,400. Thirteen passengers ejected. Authorities said all those circumstances converged Sunday on the Mississippi River just north of the Lock and Dam No. 3.
By: Mike Longaecker, The Republican Eagle
A forty-five foot boat. Sixty miles per hour. Horsepower exceeding 1,400. Thirteen passengers ejected.
Authorities said all those circumstances converged Sunday on the Mississippi River just north of the Lock and Dam No. 3.
Yet Goodhue County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Kris Johnson said it's a wonder he could share another detail from the crash: All 13 passengers survived.
"For those people to be pitched out, and at that rate of speed ... it's just incredible they weren't killed," the water patrol officer said.
Johnson said witnesses saw the boat hurtling downriver at about 6:30 p.m. when either its rear end lost contact with the water or the bow tipped, causing the boat to make an abrupt 180-degree turn.
Among the people jettisoned from the boat were two children, ages 5 and 10. They were the only people aboard wearing life jackets, Johnson said.
Lock and dam staff aided in the rescue, as did people on shore, who reportedly threw life jackets to victims. Johnson said all the passengers were on shore by the time emergency crews arrived.
Injuries were minor, Johnson said — "mostly cuts and bruises" — though all 13 people were hospitalized. He said every victim had been released by Monday evening.
The children were fortunate, he said, since that portion of the river has strong currents and neither child appeared to be a strong swimmer.
"If they wouldn't have had life jackets on, that could've been different for them too," Johnson said.
Alcohol was present on the boat and several passengers were in "various states of intoxication," Johnson said.
He said the driver, identified as Eagan, Minn., resident David Long, had not been drinking. The case is being forwarded to the Goodhue County Attorney's Office for possible charges.
Johnson noted there is no speed limit on the river, outside of no-wake zones. However, he said speed could be considered in factoring charges.
"When you have that much horsepower and that much speed, you really need to use common sense," Johnson said.
There were adequate safety vests, but all were stowed below deck, he said.
"That's not good enough," he said. "Because you never know when you're going to find yourself in the water."