THUNDER BAY – An evening boat crash that injured six people – three seriously – could easily have had a more tragic outcome.
A boat collided with the harbour break on Lake Superior wall just after 11 p.m. on Thursday night, leaving six people who were found on board the damaged vessel with varying degrees of injuries.
Three victims suffered serious injuries, with one reported to be in serious conditions with life-threatening injuries. All of the people involved were taken to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.
“It absolutely could have been a lot worse,” Thunder Bay Fire Rescue chief John Hay said on Friday morning, adding that such a big rescue on the break wall is rare.
“They could have been in the water, which would have really caused a problem especially if they were away from the boat or away from the break wall. Searching for additional victims would have been a really big challenge in that water at night.”
Hay said the response, which included two Thunder Bay Fire Rescue’s rescue vessels, six waiting Superior North EMS ambulances as well as the Coast Guard, likely illustrates the gravity of the incident.
The fire department’s new seven-metre rescue boat, which was approved by Thunder Bay city council during this year’s budget process, played a significant role in transporting the victims.
“We were able to bring three seriously injured victims back to shore in one trip, which previously might have necessitated more than one trip,” Hay said. “We were able to bring a paramedic from Superior North EMS out to the incident scene and they were able to provide triage and provide support for the injured victims.”
The other three, who were less severely injured, were brought to waiting ambulances by the Coast Guard.
A media release issued by the Thunder Bay Police Service, which is investigating the incident, said alcohol is a suspected factor in the collision. Anybody with information about the crash is asked to contact the police service's traffic unit.
Hay cautioned boaters to be careful around the break wall, especially at night.
“It’s dark out. The rocks are hard. They don’t move,” Hay said. “Anybody that’s not experienced with navigating in the dark or outside the break wall could easily have an event like that happen to them.”
The boat was removed from the break wall with the help of a crane on Friday afternoon and brought to the Coast Guard’s base.