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Boats collide on lake at night

August 5, 2009 12:36 am

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By DAN TELVOCK

By DAN TELVOCK

A late-night, two-boat collision that seriously injured four people Saturday on Lake Anna was the worst Bill Robertson has ever seen.

"I didn't know at the time that two boats were involved," said Robertson, a 52-year-old security guard at Lake Anna Marina.

Robertson and two men with BoatUS, a private insurance, towing and emergency support company, were the first to respond to the crash between 11 and 11:30 p.m. near Brumleys Point, south of Lake Anna Court in Spotsylvania County.

"I knew it had to be bad because of the noise. It was just so loud," he said.

Robertson saw a Sea Ray motorboat traveling at a high rate of speed turning out of the mouth of Sturgeon Creek, before striking almost head-on an idling Mariah boat.

"From what I've seen, and I've been boating for about 30 years or better, it looked like to me they were going at least 40 to 50 mph when they went into that curve," Robertson said of the Sea Ray.

Leonhardt Anderson, a Department of Game and Inland Fisheries officer, said the Sea Ray was occupied by a driver and passenger, both males in their 30s or 40s, from Hanover County.

Robertson said two men and a woman, possibly in their 20s or early 30s, were in the Mariah. They were pulling a fourth person on a wake board. Anderson said the occupants are from the Northern Virginia area.

Robertson said four of the six people involved appeared to be seriously injured.

One woman remains in a hospital with severe head trauma, Anderson said.

Anderson was reconstructing the wreck yesterday and said it could be two weeks before the investigation wraps up. He said he found some violations, but no charges have been filed yet. He said alcohol was a factor in the crash.

There is no speed limit on Lake Anna. Jet Skis and wake boarders aren't supposed to be on the lake after dusk, Robertson said.

Robertson said he was untying his boat to rush to the scene when the Sea Ray came speeding back to the marina in a no-wake zone.

Robertson said he at first did not realize the Sea Ray was the same boat involved in the wreck, and he yelled at the driver to slow down. He said he heard a voice come from the boat to call 911.

Robertson arrived at the scene, where he was met by two men with BoatUS.

Fiberglass was strewn on the water with other debris floating in the waves. Robertson said the sight made him sick for hours afterward.

"The only way I could describe it was like looking at a war movie and seeing a bomb go off, and instead of scrap metal was the fiberglass," Robertson said.

He followed the towboat with a floodlight to Lake Anna Marina, which was was illuminated by emergency lights from the numerous ambulances and emergency response teams.

The female victim was transported to the hospital by a helicopter that landed in a yard near the marina.

The emergency response from BoatUS and volunteer rescue squads from Spotsylvania County and Louisa was swift, marina workers said.

Officers with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries stayed well into Sunday morning investigating the wreck.

"I think the emergency response team and BoatUS should get a pat on the back," Robertson said. "They did an outstanding job."

Anderson did not release the names of those involved in the crash. He said he's unsure if any of the injuries are life-threatening and he did not have an update on the condition of any of the victims.

"There are some violations that have been discovered as a result of the investigation," Anderson said, "but I am going to consult with the Spotsylvania County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office and whatever their recommendation is, I will pursue it."

Joe Boggs, the owner of Lake Anna Marina for 37 years, said the crash "was probably the worst one we've had on the lake. If it wasn't the worst, it was No. 2."

--Staff Librarian Craig Schulin contributed to this story.

Dan Telvock: 540/374-5438
Email: dtelvock@freelancestar.com




OTHER INCIDENTS

In June 2006, a Spotsylvania girl was seriously injured while water tubing on Memorial Day. The 12-year-old girl suffered a traumatic brain injury after she was swung into a dock on Wendy Hill Court.

In June 2005, a 22-year-old Arlington man was killed on Memorial Day weekend when his Jet Ski collided with a fishing boat.

--The Free Lance-Star archives

STATE BOAT CRASHES

In Virginia during 2007, the most-recent year for which statistics are available, there were 145 boating wrecks, six of which involved alcohol. One person died.




Copyright 2014 The Free Lance-Star Publishing Company.