Arrest after out-of-control boat causes multiple injuries in Indiana lake
The following release was issued by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources:
At 7:13 PM on Saturday, July 15th, Steuben County Communications received a 9-1-1 call from the Lake Gage area in reference to several people involved in a boating accident that were still in the water with serious injuries. Information at the time was that there were 10 occupants ejected from the boat with 4 possible serious or near fatal injuries.
Indiana Conservation Officers, Steuben County Sheriff’s Department, Steuben County EMS, Orland Fire Dept., and Parkview Samaritan Helicopter responded to the scene. Several seriously injured were immediately transported to the shore by local citizens’ boats in order for EMS and fire units to tend to their injuries. Two occupants were flown via Samaritan to Parkview with injuries including a skull fracture and a partial lower arm amputation. Others with less serious injuries were transported to Cameron Memorial Hospital in Angola.
The Ski Nautique motorboat which was involved in the accident was still under power and unmanned, circling the lake at approximately 30 miles per hour.
Conservation Officer Jake Carlile launched a DNR Boston Whaler patrol boat as Steuben County Sheriff’s Deputies alerted residents on the shore to move their docked boats and clear the area as the unmanned boat circled by the shoreline at speed nearing closer to boats and docks with each pass.
Conservation Officer Carlile was able to throw a rope his patrol boat to entangle the propeller of the runaway boat. The boat struck a dock and diverted it’s direction into the rear of the patrol boat Carlile was operating, disabling the patrol boat’s motor due to the impact.
The entangling rope eventually slowed the runaway boat. CO Carlile was able to use a nearby personal watercraft and jump onto the runaway boat while both boats were still in motion. He then took control of the unmanned boat and bring it to a stop, averting any further injuries and damage.
Initial information from investigating Conservation Officers shows that Dominique Effinger, age 20 of Ft. Wayne, was operating a 21 ft. Correct Craft Ski Nautique on Lake Gage at a high rate of speed when the boat cut into a violent turn ejecting all 10 occupants of the boat. The boat continued at a high rate of speed, unmanned around Lake Gage causing further serious bodily injury and property damage.
Alcohol was found to be a factor in the accident. Domonique Effinger, the operator of the boat, was arrested for Boating While Intoxicated causing injury and being a Minor in Possession of Alcohol.
The incident continues to be under investigation by the Indiana Conservation Officers.