Cowichan Lake boat crash victim: "I ducked and the boat came right over top of us"

10 people taken to hospital

Eric Brinkworth said he had been playing cards with friends on a boat in Cowichan Lake when a vessel crashed into them.

It was 11:15 p.m. Saturday and the nine people from Victoria, in their teens and early 20s, were winding down from a day of wakeboarding and tubing. Suddenly, a speedboat blasted into into the side of the 21-foot wakesetter, which had been sitting stationary in the water, on the south arm of Lake Cowichan.

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“It got loud right as it hit us,” 16-year-old Brinkworth said. “I looked up right away and I ducked, and the boat came right over top of us.”

He said the crash left four of the teens needing stitches, with gashes to their heads. The group had been camping at Lakeview Park Campsite and using a boat belonging to the father of one of the teens.

Brinkworth said it appeared the speedboat had been racing two other boats.

“There were three boats coming at us side by side.”

The two other vessels helped bring the nine young people to shore, where they and the driver of the speedboat that hit them were taken to hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. By Sunday afternoon, nine had been released from hospital.

Brinkworth said the stationary boat had all its inboard and outboard lights on, as well as a lantern hanging from the side. Witnesses who watched the crash from the shore confirmed that.

Ian Morrison, area director for Cowichan Lake South area, said in an interview Sunday that “people racing around in an unsafe manner” and “showboating” on the lake has been a perennial issue.

“We’ve had meetings where people have suggested that the powerful fast boats should go further down the lake, where there’s less population,” Morrison said.

“But that wouldn’t work, because people don’t like to go out in their expensive boats in a vacuum. They like the attention.”

Lake Cowichan RCMP are investigating and not ruling out charges.

Const. Marc Skinner said alcohol is not believed to be a factor.

Skinner said that given the size of the lake and the amount of boat traffic, Lake Cowichan has not had many boat collisions.

Last week, Cowichan Lake Mayor Ross Forrest called a round-table meeting with residents of the area to discuss safety issues and potential solutions to boat noise and environmental problems on the lake.

kderosa@tc.canwest.com

ahui@tc.canwest.com

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Ten people were taken to hospital Saturday night after two boats collided on Cowichan Lake.

All are expected to recover from their non-life-threatening injuries and by Sunday afternoon nine had been released from hospital.

About 11:15 p.m. Saturday, a speedboat collided with another vessel that was stopped on the lake with its engines off and lights on, said Const. Marc Skinner of Lake Cowichan RCMP.

The collision happened on the south arm of Cowichan Lake.

Skinner said that alcohol is not believed to be a factor.

Witnesses said two speedboats were travelling through the water, perhaps racing, when one of them struck the stationary boat.

"It was very scary. We were just commenting just before it happened how many boats were out on the water and you don't really see that many boats in the evening," Cindy Croucher told CHEK News.

Several young people were in the stationary boat. "They were playing a board game in the middle of the lake. And they had all their proper lights on. I guess these two boats were racing and they didn't see the (stationary) boat," said Croucher.

"We heard something that almost sounded like fireworks. There was a very loud bang," said witness Karen Madison. "It's pretty much a miracle that there are not more injuries."

Families camping near the lake called 911, and the driver of speed boat not involved in the collision helped to bring the injured to shore, witnesses said.

Skinner said that given the size of the lake and the amount of boat traffic there, Cowichan Lake has not had many boat collisions.

“For the most part, people are very well-informed,” Skinner said.

But Ian Morrison, area director for Cowichan Lake South area, said in an interview Sunday that “people racing around in an unsafe manner” and “showboating” on the lake has been a perennial issue.

“We’ve had meetings where people have suggested that the powerful fast boats should go further down the lake, where there’s less population,” Morrison said.

“But that wouldn’t work, because people don’t like to go out in their expensive boats in a vacuum. They like the attention.”

Last week, Cowichan Lake Mayor Ross Forrest called a round-table meeting with residents of the area to discuss safety issues and potential solutions to boat noise and environmental problems on the lake.

ahui@tc.canwest.com

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