Wawasee boat 'crash lands' in neighbor's yard

Suspected throttle problems caused a boat to ‘crash land’ in a neighbor’s yard at Lake Wawasee Sunday afternoon.

The 2005 Nautique was going fast enough to become airborne.

“Where it had landed, it, it had traveled approximately 40 feet in the air from the seawall to the ground,” said Indiana Conservation Officer Jon Cook.

Officer Cook took a picture showing that the blue and white boat skidded another 20 or so feet before it came to rest on dry land about 63 feet from the shore.

The boat grazed a porch support at the home about five feet from the ground.

A pretzeled pier post became entangled in the boat’s propeller and apparently acted as a brake—by digging into the soil.

The driver of the boat (18 year old Marshall Dillon of Goshen) was not injured, but a passenger was not so lucky.

“And the girl was in the boat with him, she went airborne and the neighbor saw it happen and he happened to be working right here, and she went as high as his roof, landed on the ground and rolled and skidded across the road,” said Wawasee Lake resident Jerry Juergens, who lives nearby.

16 year old Riley Wagner of New Paris suffered fractures to her pelvic area, and injuries to her lower vertebrae, according to Officer Cook.

“She seemed to be alright. She wasn’t crying. She kept saying, ‘all I wanted to do was have a boat ride,’” said Jerry Juergens. “She was already in the road laying on her back and she was conscious. Everybody was asking her questions and she was answering them pretty good.”

Officer Cook says that alcohol was not a factor in the crash, and that the driver blamed mechanical problems with the throttle. “It looks like there’s some linkage, in the linkage shift control looked like it had broke or come undone, so we’re looking into that as well.”

The owner of the home where the crash took place today told News Center 16 that his children had been playing in the yard earlier in the day, but left to attend a birthday party.

No one else was hurt which is a good thing, you know there was toys out there that showed that kids were in the yard playing, there was a neighbor working on a deck, this could have really been a bad situation,” said Officer Cook.

The boat was actually traveling down a channel off Lake Wawasee’s Johnson Bay when the sudden acceleration occurred. The driver was trying to dock a few piers away from the crash site when he said he experienced the throttle malfunction.

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