Runaway boat throws passengers before heroic officer jumps in to stop it

Rebecca Barbier
Julho 17, 2017

The 21-foot boat ran amok in Lake Gage at about 30 miles per hour after the operator and nine others were thrown yesterday.

Dominique Effinger, 20, of Fort Wayne, was charged with boating while intoxicated causing injury and being a minor in possession of alcohol, conservation officers said in a statement.

Indiana Conservation Officers, the Steuben County Sheriff's Department, Steuben County EMS, Orland Fire Department and Parkview Samaritan Helicopter responded to the scene.

Four of the people who were thrown were seriously injured. It said two people were flown to Parkview Regional Medical Center in Fort Wayne with injuries including a skull fracture and a partial lower-arm amputation. DNR spokesman Price also said several other people present at the spot helped take victims to the shore so that they could receive instant treatment.

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According to DNR Spokesman James Price, while the boat was seen circling at a high speed as it neared the shore, Conservation Officer Jake Carlile immediately threw a rope around the boat's propeller in order to slow down the out-of-control vehicle. But the runaway boat struck a dock, changed direction and hit the rear of Carlile's patrol boat, disabling the DNR boat's engine. He then brought the motorboat to a stop.

Correct Craft Ski Nautique on Lake Gage when the boat cut into a violent turn, throwing all 10 occupants into the water around 7:15 p.m., according to conservation officers. The boat continued at a high rate of speed, traveling unmanned around Lake Gage, causing further serious bodily injury and property damage. A DNR statement said an initial report to conservation officers indicated four injured, but the exact number of people injured has not been confirmed.

Conservation officers are continuing to investigate the accident, their report said.

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