Operator inattention, excessive speed, restricted vision and alcohol use contributed to a July 2 crash between two boats on Lake Holcombe, according to an investigating officer.
More details of the crash were released following a Ladysmith News open records request filed with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Injuries were reported including a possible concussion to a 2-year-old.
The vessels were operating at about 8 p.m. on the north side of Lake Holcombe, southeast of a dock. The crash caused an estimated $10,000 in property damage.
Vessel one was an 18-foot boat with a 125 hp motor operated by Nathan Larsen, 19, of Holcombe. He was ticketed for operating a motorboat prior to age 21 with an alcohol concentration of more than 0.0 but not more than 0.08 and for failing to yield the right-of-way when overtaking or passing. Larsen had been fishing and was traveling at about 20-25 mph.
Vessel two was a 16-foot boat with a 60 hop motor operated by Timothy Black, of Mondovi. He was not ticketed. Black was traveling by trolling motor at about 0.8 mph.
Larsen’s boat hull was stuck over Black’s boat gunwale by about 7 inches. Passengers in Black’s boat jumped into Larsen’s boat when the struck vessel started taking on water and then onto a pontoon boat that came to help.
“I seen a boat coming at full speed from behind us. I had a split second to try and stand up but the boat hit us in that second. The boat was lodged on top of ours,” Black stated in a crash report.
A witness on shore described the evening as very bright outside and the sun was blinding. Another witness said the sun may have led to poor visibility.
Larsen said he had difficulty seeing due to sun glare. Larsen’s boat struck Black’s boat on the port stern corner and traveling forward about 84 inches against the hull. A 14-year-old passenger with Larsen was ejected from the boat and complained of injury to his lower abdomen. All occupants on vessel 2 stayed on-board and fell down, causing injuries.
In an e-mail included with the released documents, Rusk County District Attorney Annette Barna said the absolute sobriety was amended to underage drinking since Larsen’s Blood Alcohol Concentration came back at 0.0 and the PBT test can only be used for the drinking ticket.
Larsen paid the boating ticket fine but is contesting the underage drinking ticket.
According to a DNR report, Black reported he was fishing and trolling when a passenger in his boat yelled something. Black looked in the direction of a boat coming at him. He said the boat hit and he was knocked over. An adult passenger complained of a leg injury and a young girl was secured to a backboard with a bruise or mark on her temple.
According to a DNR report, Larsen said he had been fishing and was returning to shore. He said the sun had been shining in his face and he had not seen the other boat. Larsen reported no injuries. A passenger in his boat reported his side was sore after being thrown into the water from the front seat when the boat hit the other vessel.
A law enforcement officer noticed a smell of intoxicant while speaking to Larsen. Larsen reported had had about 3/4 can of beer about 2 hours before the crash.
A preliminary breath test registered a 0.022 BAC value.
Larsen was arrested because he could not legally have any alcohol in his system and operate a motorboat. He was taken to a local hospital for a blood draw.
The DNR, Rusk County Sheriff’s Department, Rusk County Ambulance Service Ladysmith and Sheldon units and the Ladysmith and Sheldon Fire Departments responded to the crash.
On Sept. 7 Larsen’s mother contacted the Rusk County Circuit Court to advise the court of Larsen’s intention to plead not guilty to operating a motorboat prior to the age of 21 with an alcohol content of more than 0.0 but not more than .08. Later that day, a signed document was received indicating a not guilty plea to this citation. The maximum penalty is $200.50.
On Sept. 11 Larsen entered a plea of no contest to the failure to yield right-of-way when overtaking or passing citation and paid the $232 forfeiture.
At this time no further actions have been scheduled in Rusk County Circuit Court regarding Larsen’s plea of not guilty to operating a motorboat prior to the age of 21 with an alcohol content of more than 0.0 but not more than 0.08.