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The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is investigating a boat crash on the jetty in Jerusalem that sent three people to the hospital last week. 

JERUSALEM – The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is in the early stages of an investigation into a boat crash that injured three people Sunday night. Three people, including one child, were treated at Rhode Island Hospital after a boat crashed into the jetty at the west gap at the entrance to the Harbor of Refuge around 7:15 p.m.

All three patients were released from the hospital Monday, according to DEM. A total of four people were onboard the boat when it made impact with the jetty.

On Thursday morning, DEM spokesman Mike Healey said the agency was in the early stages of an investigation into the incident.

“Reconstructing boat incidents and boat collisions is really tricky, because, with a car wreck, for example, there’d be skid marks on the road, the car may be wrapped a tree,” said Healey. “But when you’re on the water, the water automatically makes everything trickier.”

At about 7:20 p.m. Sunday evening, the Narragansett Fire Department (NFD) received multiple 911 calls, including one from a residence near the harbor, reporting the crash of an approximately 30-foot, center console boat that had collided with the Harbor’s jetty. The fire department contacted the US Coast Guard, which launched a 45-foot rescue boat to the scene. NFD also launched its own rescue boat, along with swimmers as the 911 calls had indicated one of the boat passengers may be in the water. 

“While we were getting ready, the Coast Guard said they had three people who had significant injuries from the crash,” said NFD Captain Scott McLaughlin. “Two were basically walking wounded and two had sustained some pretty significant injuries.”   

The injured individuals could not walk or be carried out onto the jetty, due to the nature of the structure and the rocks present, NFD said, requiring a water rescue. The patients were instead swam by public safety personnel from NFD and South Kingstown Emergency Medical Services from the crash to rescue boats. From there, the patients requiring medical attention were brought to public safety boathouses and ultimately transported to Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children’s Hospital. 

“It was definitely quite a rescue,” said McLaughlin. “You never know what you have, so you send what you think you might need.”   

DEM said it has not ruled out drugs or alcohol as cause for the crash, with Healey noting the agency is currently considering a number of possible motivators, including distractedness and medical emergency affecting the boat’s operator. One facto, however, remains clear - the conditions on the water the evening of the collision. DEM reported “100 percent visibility” at the time the boat made contact with the jetty. 

“We cannot rule [drugs or alcohol] out,” said Healey. “I don’t want to imply either that that’s going to ultimately turn out to be an issue.” 

DEM was on scene the night of the crash after receiving word of the incident around 7:17 p.m. The boat was heading due west at speed when it made “direct impact” with the jetty, said Healey. 

“‘At speed’ is a vague term,” he said. “We’re trying to figure out exactly what that speed was, we don’t know yet, but clearly, the boat was moving at a pretty good clip to cause that damage.”

On Monday evening, the boat was towed to shore and transported to a local marina. It will be placed in a sling and examined by DEM per the investigation, according to Healey. 

“That was critical because with the nor’easter that came in and tore everything to shreds, who knows where that boat could have ended up,” he said of the crashed boat’s transportation off the jetty. 

DEM will then work to reconstruct the collision based on observed damages to the boat’s hull and bow. 

“[The operator] was a local Rhode Islander, and he keeps his boat in Jerusalem, so presumably, he knows the shoreline, he knows the seawall, he knows the area, but that’s the puzzle - how did this happen?” Healey said. “You go through the different factors - was it distractedness? Was there alcohol or drugs involved? We don’t know any of that stuff yet but those are the questions we’re trying to answer.”     

“You look at the boat, you consider the circumstances, there’s no denying it, it’s really kind of miraculous that nobody was killed, let alone seriously injured,” Healey concluded.  

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(1) comment

BR549

Late summer of 1973, a roughly 60 ft Criss Craft(?) was being piloted from Maine to some point down South, and was traveling on auto-pilot on the leg that supposed to clear the tip of Pt. Judith. Well, the vessel was running too far north and wound up on the rocks about half way between the Coast Guard House and Monahan's Pier.

The first thing that nearby witnesses noted were people throwing liquor bottles over the side. When the tide went down, the props looked like they had been shredded. Probably THE most disgusting facet of this story was the absolutely unnecessary chopping and thrashing by the salvage crew, hacking and slashing at everything in sight. I mean, the vessel wasn't going anywhere; it was well up on a set of rocks that supported it, although I did note one hull breach amidship below the starboard chine. Once they got the boat pulled off, it immediately started to sink and was quickly pulled to Monahan's, where it appeared to partially settle. I just couldn't imagine what all the hacking and slashing was for, since, again, the vessel wasn't going anywhere at the time they came on board.

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In 1986 (?) I remember one guy had attempted to run across from the East Gap to the Breachway. I think it was nighttime and he just forget that the east side of the breakaway jetty stuck out a bit and he ran right up on the jetty. Alcohol was apparently involved in that one, too.

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