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Incredible accident in NC, luckily it looks like everyone will be ok.

Old 08-25-2003, 12:32 PM
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Default Incredible accident in NC, luckily it looks like everyone will be ok.

I have been in Sarasota, so not sure if this has been posted yet, but saw it scanning through the boat news.

Posted on Fri, Aug. 22, 2003

'It fell out of the sky'
3 in hospital after speedboat jumps onto I-77
Staff Writer

Robert Jones, John Bills and Jennifer Wade were friends out for a late-night cruise on Jones' new, 20-foot Baja boat.

The boat, which has top speeds of about 55 mph, hit the Interstate 77 causeway north of Exit 30 at about 2:30 a.m. Thursday. It went airborne and landed upside down in the path of an oncoming car.

Lucas Croft, a 19-year-old college student, suddenly saw a giant boat land right in front of his 1998 Ford. He hit the spinning vessel and pushed it into the median.

"(Croft) said it fell out of the sky in front of him," said N.C. wildlife Officer Bobby Blackwell. "He never saw anything but the boat coming down."

Blackwell and N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper Myron Byrd are investigating what caused the unprecedented boat-car collision. They found empty beer cans in the Baja and are awaiting toxicology reports. They are also trying to determine who was driving the boat and how fast it was going. No charges were filed Thursday.

Jones, 30, and Bills, 24, were in critical condition at Carolinas Medical Center, hospital officials said. Wade, 28, of Charlotte was in fair condition. Jones' and Bills' addresses were unavailable, but Blackwell said he believed they were Charlotte-area residents.

All three boaters work in the motorsports industry. Jones is lead mechanic for MB2 Motorsports' No. 01 Winston Cup team, Bills works for Penske-Jasper Engines and Wade for the Richard Petty Driving Experience.

The accident is a reminder of boating safety in a summer that has seen fewer boating crashes than last year. There have been no fatal crashes on Lake Norman so far this summer, Blackwell said -- a first in his five years on the lake.

"I don't see how anybody could have survived," he said of Thursday's accident. "That is very amazing. I've worked fatal accidents where the top speed was 10 mph. This was a mess."

Blackwell described how the boat launched itself into the air:

It was headed east toward the I-77 causeway that connects Mecklenburg and Iredell counties. The bank, with big rocks at its base, is 21 feet long from water to pavement, Blackwell said. There is about a 15-foot elevation difference.

The boat struck the bank, which Blackwell described as a "21-foot ramp."

"The boat slid up the bank before it went airborne," he said.

At the top of the ramp, the boat jumped the guardrail, flipped in the air and landed upside down in the southbound lanes. A half-second later, Blackwell said, the medium-size Ford struck the spinning boat.

The car, driven by Croft, hit the boat and spun it into the median without sustaining serious damages. Croft and a passenger were not seriously injured.

The boat passengers were trapped under the vessel. Jones and Bills suffered head injuries; Wade some broken bones, Blackwell said.

"Can you imagine just riding down the road, and a boat comes up in front of you?" said Sgt. Greg Christopher of the N.C. Highway Patrol. "We've had people call here this morning from all over the United States, just because it's so unusual."

Blackwell and Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Officer Terry Davis, a member of the department's lake enforcement unit, said they had never seen a similar accident on Lake Norman. Yet it still serves as a reminder of boating safety, they said.

This summer had been quiet for boating accidents on the lake. Last year, Lake Norman had 27 accidents, more than any other N.C. waterway, including one fatality, said Davis, a recent appointee to the Lake Norman Marine Commission.

He does not have an exact number of accidents this year, but said he knows of seven wrecks serious enough to be discussed at marine commission meetings. One fatality on Mountain Island Lake was attributed to natural causes, he said.

The reduction in wrecks can probably be attributed to rain and high lake levels, as well as safety awareness, Davis said.

Wade was in good spirits at the hospital Thursday, said Chris McKee, marketing director of the Richard Petty Driving Experience who visited her.

"A miracle is the right word," said McKee, who said Wade still doesn't know exactly what happened. "She was kind of dozed off, and the next thing you know, she was in the middle of the highway."

Boating at Night

N.C. wildlife Officer Bobby Blackwell, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Officer Terry Davis and Jim Loftin of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, offered the following tips for boating at night:

Always keep navigational lights on.

Keep a more vigilant lookout.

Do not operate personal watercraft.

First familiarize yourself with the lake during the day.
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Old 08-25-2003, 12:51 PM
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Thats insane. They are lucky to survive. I thought only Bat boats were supposed to fly?? It was great seeing all you guys this weekend and hope you made it back to Cincy safe.
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Old 08-25-2003, 01:02 PM
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They showed pictures of it on NBC news upside down on the roadway with cars stopped around it.
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Old 08-25-2003, 01:12 PM
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"This summer had been quiet for boating accidents on the lake."

Not so quiet on the highway though.......

Hope all fully recover and perhaps the one guy that works for the Petty Driving school can add another lesson to his class.

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Old 08-25-2003, 03:29 PM
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That would be one interesting lesson.
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