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6 Missing and 1 Killed in Power Boat Collisions

May 19, 1987|From Times Wire Services

Divers and surface crews searched Monday for six people missing and presumed drowned in weekend head-on collisions of power boats in east Texas and northwest Louisiana that killed one person and left 11 injured. Speed is believed to have been a key factor in both accidents.

The worst of the two accidents occurred Sunday night near Beaumont, Tex., on the Neches River in heavy traffic as spectators to a raft race were dispersing.

The two 17-foot boats, one carrying 10 people and the other six, collided at high speed, throwing all 16 into the water. Two men and two women were missing and presumed drowned and 10 of the 12 survivors required hospital treatment.

Overloading, Speed Cited

"Obviously, one of the boats appeared to be overloaded (and) speed will be an issue in that the combined speeds would have been approaching 70 m.p.h.," Jefferson County Chief Sheriff's Deputy Cal Blanchard said.

"It is apparent alcohol is going to be involved to some extent (but) right now we don't know to what extent," he said.

The second collision, also at high speed, occurred Sunday afternoon on Lake Bistineau near Shreveport in Louisiana.

Scott Hodges, spokesman for the Bossier Parish sheriff's office, said that in the instant of the collision, one boat became airborne and its propeller struck one man, killing him instantly. Another was in serious condition with two broken legs and two others in that boat were missing.

Hodges said that the driver of the airborne boat was arrested by wildlife enforcement agents.

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