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The Journal Gazette

  • Effinger

Monday, July 17, 2017 1:00 am

Several thrown from motorboat

Arrest made; at least 2 seriously hurt

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

A Fort Wayne woman was released from jail Sunday after a Steuben County boating incident that threw nearly a dozen people into a lake and left a runaway motorboat circling the lake at about 30 mph, causing more damage and injury, officials said.

Dominique Effinger, 20, was charged with boating while intoxicated causing injury and being a minor in possession of alcohol, conservation officers said in a news release.

Her bond amount was not immediately known Sunday.

Multiple agencies – including Indiana conservation officers, the Steuben County Sheriff's Department and Parkview Samaritan helicopter – responded to Lake Gage about 7:15 p.m. Saturday on reports that several people were in the water with serious injuries, the news release said.

Ten people were thrown from a 21-foot Correct Craft Ski Nautique when it “cut into a violent turn” while traveling at a “high rate of speed,” the release said. It indicated Effinger was operating the boat.

Several seriously injured people were immediately taken to shore by people on other boats so emergency responders could tend to the injuries, the release said.

Two people reportedly were flown to a hospital with injuries, including a skull fracture and a partial lower-arm amputation. Others less seriously hurt were taken to Cameron Memorial Community Hospital in Angola.

Unmanned, the motorboat circled the lake and came closer to boats and docks with each circle, the release said.

Conservation Officer Jake Carlile launched a Department of Natural Resources patrol boat as sheriff's deputies urged residents to move their boats and clear the area, the release said.

Carlile threw a rope from the patrol boat to entangle the motorboat's propeller, the release said, and the boat struck a dock and changed direction, striking the back of the patrol boat and disabling the patrol boat's motor.

The rope slowed the motorboat, the release said, and Carlile used a nearby personal watercraft to jump onto the runaway boat while both were in motion. He then brought the motorboat to a stop.

The incident remains under investigation by conservation officers.