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Sad day on the water


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My wife and I took the boat out for a date night Saturday. We spent the last couple of daylight hours just drifting, reading, and listening to music. When it was dark we went to a local waterfront restaurant and tied the boat up. We were eating on the deck overlooking the river and noticed a boat out in the middle of the water just drifting along, it was a beautiful, still, warm night. It had its anchor light up and nav lights on. Another boat approached from upriver and we didn't think much of it and went back to talking. About 5 seconds later we heard the collision. We jumped up and told a busboy to call 911 and ran for our boat. I had a pit in my stomach thinking of what we could be headed in to. We could hear a woman's voice yelling toward the restaurant for help. As we approached, we asked if anyone was in the water. Both boats said no and only one had an injured passenger. I have some advanced emergency training because I practice conscious sedation in my office and offered my assistance. I hopped on board and my wife was sent back to the dock to await and shuttle paramedics if necessary because the only other boat arriving was a sail boat.

A young man was lying face down in the floor of the boat with his legs up in the back seat. He was 15 and was out with his older brother (about 35), his brother's 10 year old daughter, brother's girlfriend, and her 2 year old daughter. They were fine, with some small cuts from the glass in the boat. I leaned down to survey the boy, he was taking short, ragged breaths and gurgling on blood. A large pool of blood formed around his mouth and ran toward the back of the boat. He had a pulse which was about 80 and somewhat irregular. Police vehicles pulled up on the shore and spotlit the area as well as they could, but the river is about 400 yards across in that area and it was pretty dark near the floor of the boat. The sailboat had a small outdrive and they hooked to our boat and started toward the restaurant which was a couple hundred yards away. The dispatcher told the brother the county fire dept had a rescue boat that was just hitting the water and headed toward us. As they approached, we unhooked from the sailboat and moved to the front of the boat so the paramedics could work on the young man.

At that point, I took over trying to console and calm the 10 year old girl. She was very emotional and scared. It was really sad to hear her as she seemed to be verbalizing every thought she had in her head. At this point, the paramedics more thoroughly evaluated the boy and determined he had no pupillary reflex and was deceased. The agonal breathing and pulse also stopped at about that time. He had a broken neck and a large depression in his skull behind his ear as well as an avulsed eye on the side toward the floor. They feel he suffered brain death instantly. At this point, they were transporting a corpse instead of a rescue so they tied up to the crippled boat and headed for the launch. It was a sad scene to watch this tragedy unfold on this family. He was the youngest of 8 children and apparently a very special young man. This page was set up for those close to him to provide their memories.

The man driving the other boat was drunk. It was a 19 foot bayliner which he had won on the reservation casino. He hit the boat directly from the stern while at WOT. The boat went directly over the other one (23 foot Sea Ray) and came off just ahead of the helm. I completely tore the wake tower off and the windshield was leveled. In fact, the main hoop of the tower was draped over the Bayliner's bow and stayed there. Jonas had been laying on the sun pad when the boat struck. Everyone else was down on the floor or in a seat. The older brother had heard the boat approaching and noticed they were on a collision course so he jumped up, waved his arms, honked the horn and yelled at the approaching boat but they didn't even come off throttle. The boat came over the sunpad, knocking Jonas into the back seat where he came to rest then it continued over everyone else and back into the water.

I know visibility can be very poor at night and when there are lights in the back ground it can be difficult to see a small anchor light, but I strongly feel that the impaired nature of the driver is at fault. I don't want to sound judgmental here, but I don't drink, I never have and I never will. I feel I live a very fulfilled and happy life without the stuff. I have enjoyed every single hour I've put on my boat only drinking clear non-staining, non-alcoholic liquids! I know for some boating and drinking go hand in hand and it is my plea that the members of this forum and all other boaters be responsible. Do you ever drive your boat under the influence? Does anyone else drive your boat if they have been drinking? Do you get lax in the rules you've set up for yourself by drinking 'only a little' then driving around? If you do, you need to STOP (intentional use of capital letters). Sleep has been difficult to come by the last few nights thinking about this young man and watching him take his last breaths and feeling his last heartbeats. His dad was in Alaska and didn't get home until 20 hours after the accident. Picture yourself in his shoes, what are your thoughts as you get that phone call and scramble for a flight home. You're stuck on a plane desperately wishing you were home to be with and console your family. Parents should never bury their children.

There are lessons to learn from this, we share the waterways with saps that spend their days at the casino, have a large fast machine land in their laps, and take it out without training. They spend the day drinking and partying and can kill you and your family in an instant. Be alert if you are out there at night, watch approaching boats to make sure they see you and be ready to move if you need to.

Anyway, take what you will from this, but I wish you'd all stop drinking unless you're in your own homes for the rest of the night so you don't share the road and waterways with others. I'd like to say those reading this already know better, as you should be a somewhat responsible person to have the ability to purchase a boat that costs as much as Malibus do. I'm sorry if this sounds condescending as you read it, that's the drawback of communicating in writing. It isn't my intent to offend, as that's not what I feel right now. Rather, I feel sad and heartbroken for what I've seen.

PS The drunk guy attempted to flee the scene after the rescue boat left, but he had a hole punched in his gas tank and ran out of fuel after a few hundred yards. Real class act.

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It’s hard not chocked up when reading this sort of news. So often alcohol is involved . I’m so glad that murderer didn’t get away. I really hope he spends the rest of his life in jail. My thoughts and prays go out to the family and those kids on the boat who now have to live with this memory.

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Really sorry to hear this man, I have been in a similar situation when I went out for a motorbike ride with a few mates and one of them ran into a car....watching someone take their last few breaths isnt something you would wish on anyone.

Hope you find your own way to get through it.

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Wow, what a terrible scenario.

Molarbu, I have been there a few times for the last agonal breaths of victims, and you nailed it with your description...sad and heartbreaking...especially when it is an innocent victim. You acted in an honorable way and should be commended. My thoughts and prayers obviously go out to the family, but also to you.

Seth

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Definitely made me stop and think about many things on many levels, including family and boating at night. Thanks for sharing. I'm sure they were glad you were there.

Edited by 85 Barefoot
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Molarbu,

I can't even begin to understand what you went through. As much as I hate hearing these stories thank you for sharing.

Thoughts and prayers to the boy's family and yours.

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Sorry you had to go through this. More sorry for the boy and his family, as you stated.

I agree with everything you said about drinking and I have and will continue to do the same. Drinking at home or place of rest for the night only. It just makes sense. I can't say that I never have, but it's been years since I've wised up and reminders like this keep me on the right path.

Thank you.

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JFC that is a terrible story. Post-traumatic even.

Drinking aside, we do a lot of night boating due to weekly fireworks and I am amazed at the lack of lights on boats. Moreso, regulation of lights on boats. I have LED all over the place just so people can see me...at the risk of being pulled over by the Ranger, believe it or not. Still, I see the 30mph fisherman with no lights every weekend.

Lights may not have stopped this tragedy, but I have always been amazed at the lack of lighting on the water.

Still, JFC that is a terrible story.

Edited by stroker-ace
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Words can't describe what I'm feeling after reading this, so I can't possibly imagine what you or that family is feeling. So sad to hear and a grim reminder of how fragile life is.

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Molarbu -

Thank you for taking the time to write down obviously painful facts. You taking the time to relay the information may very well save someone else's life as a result of a reader choosing to not drink and boat after reading of this tragedy.

-Charlie

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That's a horrible thing in so many ways. I'm sure it's not important to you, but your presence will be remembered as they describe the experience years from now and talk about the guy that tried to help them.

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What a sad story. It is so infuriating that such a horrible incident could be easily prevented by not drinking and driving. And to think that the guy tried to drive away from the scene. Sometimes I wish this was still the Wild West and we could just go to this guys house and string him up in the front yard. I have no tolerance for such stupidity and blatant disregard for the law and wellbeing of others.

Molarbu, I’d like to thank you for rushing to the aid of a fellow boater. I can only imagine how this incident has scarred you. My thoughts and prayer are with you and the family of the victim.

Jeff

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This truly is a sad story and Molarbu, you have to give yourself the strength to believe that all things are not this tragic. Hard to imagine my self having to witness something like this and I applaud you for your courage, our prayers go out to the family that lost a loved one and a big thank you for you and your wife's support in time of need to a family in distress.

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Awful story. Find a firefighter or paramedic friend and ask them how to make peace with what you had to go through. It's not something that happens all by itself in many cases. Just my $.02.

Thoughts and prayers for the family, other victims, the rescue workers, you, and even the at-fault driver. Chances are, he's a really nice guy living a really great life with tons of potential in front of him...and one horrible, awful, uncorrectable mistake later, and his life is changed forever - prison, lawsuits, liability and guilt - I can't even imagine.

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Wow that is a sad and eye opening story. Every weekend I see idiots running hard, skiing, or wakeboarding at night. There is a idle at night law for a reason. It will only take a few accidents before these laws get stricter and boating ill be less fun. I can only imagine the scene and those trying to help. Molarbu you did everything you could and its people like you that should be applauded and modeled after.

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Words can't describe what I'm feeling after reading this, so I can't possibly imagine what you or that family is feeling. So sad to hear and a grim reminder of how fragile life is.

So true. How quickly a beautiful night can turn to tragedy. Sometimes you have to dodge ignorant boaters in broad daylight! You have to watch out.

MolarBu you are a good man. I hope talking about it helps you out. Our prayers with the young man's family as well.

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Thats an awful story, sorry.

For the past few years I've noticed on this site an increased number of water deaths. Without generalizing too much, most seem to down south our out west, geographically speaking "far away" from where I boat in new england. Each time I see one of these stories I think to my self how fortunate I am to live on a small lake in the middle of no where. No cops, no accidents, a "safe" lake.

Well, last night a 12 year old boy was killed on a very similar small quiet lake, just a few towns over from our lake. Power boat VS canoe. Now that hits home for me and makes these other stories all of a sudden seem much more real.

http://www.wwlp.com/dpp/news/local/hampshire/boating-accident-claims-life-of-12-y.o.

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Sad and horrific, such a waste. we read these types of stories far to often. I have 2 rules on my boat I never break. No boating after sunset, no liquor on board. There's lots of beer back at the cottage if you need to drink.

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I agree, very sad and horrific. I am not sure how you got thru writing this all out without breaking down. The gift of life is about the most amazing thing God gives and takes away. Hopefully this will touch many and cause all of us to be a little safer.

I can't agree more about the drinking. I don't drink very often and I certainly don't drink while boating. I am not saying people can't have a drink if they want, but I feel as the boat owner, I need to be responsible for everyone and be clear headed at all times. I almost lost my son on our boat two years ago by a freaky circumstance and if I had been drinking he would have been gone for sure. I can't thank the Lord enough for everyday he is with us. Life is too precious to take certain risks.

Thanks again for taking the time to share.

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Words excape me.... I will appologize for the long winded repsonse in advance, however I felt it necessary to share my POV on this issue.

It is stories like this that really hit home for me in the past few years. I used join my crew in drinking a few beers while on the lake, and while I never drank to excess while boating I feel that drinking would only increase the chances of somthing horrible happening and just decided that the risk was just not worth a few ouces of refreshment. After having my entire immediate family out with us more and more (including my 5 year old niece) I now understand more and more why many of you make a similar decision to remain sober while behind the wheel of your BU.

I can honestly say that crew has positively effected that decision, due to hearing recent and stories on TMC like this one. Maybe it is me getting older, and growing out of the younger party stage in my life, or maybe it is just the reality of the possible consequences consuming alcohol could cause that has forced me to remain sober skippering.

There is a time and place to cut loose and have plenty of beer, but my personal opinion is that it is not while driving a 3,000lb boat. I feel it is my duty as the boat owner to remain vigilant , coherent, and responsive should the situation arise. Therfore my crew can indulge whatever alcohol they want, but I will save that for the evenings at home or back in the campsite.

Thanks to MolarBu for sharing this story, while it is tragic and hearbreaking news that we wish we never knew about, I feel that it is good to hear these stories as they keep the reality of what "could" happen fresh in our minds.

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Thanks for the kind words and responses. Life is back to normal now and sleep comes easier. My good friend was the mortician that took care of Jonas and he knew the family pretty well. They didn't once mention the driver of the other boat, not once. They don't seem bitter or angry instead they have chosen to focus on the great time they had with their boy. He was the youngest of 8 children and everyone was together for the first time in a long while and the parents 35th anniversary was this last weekend. It sounds like they are a great family and have been very dignified in dealing with their loss. The funeral was at the local college athletic center with about 900 people in attendance.

Be careful out there!

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Glad you shared even though I'm sure it was horrible to see. I have witnessed someone I love take their last breaths and it is indeed a horrible sight and stays with everyone involved for life.

I applaud the OP for taking a no alcohol rule on his boat. I think it's important however that we all realize that alcohol doesn't kill anyone. The misuse of it does. Whether it be rules regarding the driver doesn't get to drink, or the complete non-use of alcohol on the boat, I think it's important we're all responsible with it.

That being said, try not to get too angry with the person that ran into the boat. A horrendous and preventable mistake to be sure, but my heart goes out equally to everyone involved. I'm not trying to make this a total pity story for the driver at fault - but do try to be understandable of the guilt and tragedy s/he will also have to live with.

Edited by wakeboarder3780
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