The Sheriff’s office in St. Clair County, Michigan has taken a 32-year-old man into custody after he allegedly ran his 25-foot Baja boat into a cabin cruiser. The collision occurred Sunday at 6:45 PM on August 3, 2014, killing two passengers and injuring another, all out enjoying a day on the water off Harsen’s Island.
The two passengers killed in the boating accident include Nancy Axford, a 68-year-old from Winnipeg, Manitoba and a 57-year-old resident of Chesterfield Township Robert Koontz.
Alcohol and Excessive Speed
According to police records, alcohol and excessive speed on the water were involved. The crash occurred before sundown as the Baja boat collided into the cabin cruiser, throwing one passenger into the water. A third victim aboard the cruiser was hospitalized, reported as a 62-year-old woman clinging to life with critical injuries.
A Good Samaritan alerted the Coast Guard through a mayday call after witnessing the crash. Nearby boaters who saw the accident assisted in the rescue. A law enforcement spokesperson stated that other individuals on the Baja boat were also taken into custody.
Determining Possible Charges
Eyewitness accounts of the accident indicate that the Baja boat was speeding prior to the crash. Since the accident, the prosecutor’s office for St. Clair County is still determining all possible charges involving the boat collision. Investigators are completing a reconstruction of the accident and awaiting test results performed on the suspect to determine blood alcohol levels. Police have securely stored both boats to maintain the physical evidence of the crash.
The Boat Launched into the Air
The crash occurred on the southern end of St. Clair River, 50 miles northeast of the city of Detroit. The Baja boat piloted by the 32-year-old Chesterfield Township resident was apparently speeding before slamming into the cabin cruiser carrying six individuals.
After hitting a large wake, the Baja boat launched more than 10 feet off the surface of the water before crashing onto the whole of the cruiser. Witnesses claim that the boat cleared the water completely, crashing on the cruiser’s top deck and smashing through the vessel, knocking the upper deck off the boat. The accident happened along the usually crowded shipping channel dividing Canada from Harsen’s Island.
Eyewitness accounts indicate that the Baja boat was traveling at approximately 45 to 50 miles an hour without slowing down before the collision. As a result, one passenger on the cruiser was thrown into the water by the impact. Her body was apparently located in the water 20 minutes after the accident by other boaters. Another passenger on the cabin cruiser is said to have suffered severe head injuries.
The waters are usually heavy with shipping traffic moving along the south channel of St. Clair River, moving freight throughout the Great Lakes. The accident stopped all water activity for a period while the authorities performed rescue operations on all individuals and property involved in the collision. All charges are still pending, awaiting the outcome of tests, accident reconstruction and the further collection of additional evidence.