LAKE GAGE, Ind. (WANE) – A 20-year-old Fort Wayne woman was arrested Saturday evening for boating while intoxicated, according to Indiana DNR Law Enforcement.
Around 7:13 p.m. a 21-foot boat operated by Dominique Effinger made a violent turn and threw ten people into the water, according to DNR Spokesman James Price.
Two people were air lifted to a Fort Wayne hospital; one with a skull fracture and another with a partial lower arm amputation. Other people who were hurt were taken to a hospital in Angola with non-life threatening injuries. A DNR statement said an initial report to conservation officers indicated four injured but the exact number of people injured has not been confirmed.
Price said the unmanned boat circled in the water at approximately 30 miles per hour. As it neared shore, Conservation Officer Jake Carlile threw a rope around the boat’s propeller in an attempt to get it slowed down. Carlile was able to wrangle the boat, but it struck a pier and then rear-ended Carlile’s boat.
His boat became disabled, but Carlile was able to use another boat to eventually get into the unmanned boat and stop it.
“It’s tragic when someone gets hurt that bad out in the water, but also we’re really lucky that everyone was able to make it back to shore safely so that they could get medical treatment,” Price said.
He said people should never boat and drink.
“You’ve got to have a constant awareness of what’s around you and that’s one of the first things we lose when we use alcohol,” he said. “So safety wise, you’ve got to have a sober driver. It’s imperative to keep everyone on your boat safe and everyone on the lake safe.”
Sabrina Minser, who provided an eyewitness account of the incident, told NewsChannel 15 her husband escorted a paramedic out onto the water via a jet ski. Price said several others helped take victims from the water to the shore so arriving paramedics and firefighters could begin treatment.
DNR investigators said Effinger was operating the boat on Lake Gage at high speeds. They believe she was under the influence of alcohol.
Effinger was initially charged with boating while intoxicated causing injury and minor in possession of alcohol.
The incident remains under investigation.