PORTLAND, Conn. (WTNH) — DEEP identified the man who died in a boating accident in Portland that left multiple others injured Sunday.
Around 5 p.m. Sunday, Connecticut Environmental Conservation Police officers along with local police and fire departments were dispatched to the Connecticut River in the area of Gildersleeve Island for a serious boat accident.
According to DEEP, the preliminary investigation revealed a 21-foot Yamaha jet boat was traveling north on the river when it suddenly veered toward the shoreline. DEEP officials said the boat collided with rocks on the banks of the river and numerous people on board were ejected as a result.
A total of eight people were on board the boat, two of which were children between the ages of six and 12, according to State Environmental Conservation Police Captain Keith Williams.
All eight of them were ejected from the boat during the crash which happened just before 5 o’clock Sunday afternoon.
Seven people were sent to local hospitals in the area for treatment after the crash, according to officials.
A 45-year-old woman is in critical condition, a 52-year-old woman is in stable condition, a 59-year-old man is in stable condition, and a 6-year-old boy is in serious but stable condition.
Friends and family tell News 8, that the boy suffered an amputation.
A 60-year-old man, later identified by DEEP as Wayne Hamler of Waterford, was pronounced dead at the scene.
The other occupants on board were treated and released, officials said.
“Whenever something like this happens we all feel it in our hearts,” said Bob Petzold who owns Petzold’s Marina.
EnCon police say the captain of the boat for some reason lost control of the helm or wheel.
“The boat veered off course and made a direct shot for the shoreline and probably went fifty or so feet along the rocky shoreline,” said State Environmental Conservation Police Captain Keith Williams.
According to the US Coast Guard, last year there were 7 fatal boating accidents in Connecticut with 9 in 2017. That’s also when there was a total of 49 boating accidents in the state.
So far this year there have already been a total of 8 boating and swimming-related deaths.
“All first responders and for everybody involved in these cases it’s been a rough season,” said Capt. Williams.
While the circumstances of this crash are still under investigation, DEEP urges people to have life jackets on board and wear them and don’t drink and drive.
“We always say know your limitations, as what your capabilities are as far as a captain of your vessel and what your boat can do,” said Capt. Williams. “Definitely know the conditions of any body of water you’re going out to. Know the depths, know the hazards, do your homework before you go out.”
The boat was removed from the channel this morning.
Investigators will be looking at that damaged boat along with talking with those onboard and others who may have witnessed this crash to piece together what happened.
“What we know so far is that they were heading north on the river,” Williams said Sunday. “We’re not sure as far as the circumstances, what caused the operator to lose control of the helm, but from what we understand he lost control of the helm, of the wheel for some reason. That’s all under investigation right now, and the boat veered off course and made a direct shot for the shoreline, and probably went 50 or so feet along the rocky shoreline.”
There was a tube on board but officials do not believe it was being used at the time of the incident.
Williams wants to make sure anyone taking a boat out on the water takes every precaution.
“Know your limitations, what your capabilities are, as far as, you know, a captain of your vessel and what your boat can do,” Williams said. “Just be mindful of who you have on your boat, you know because as the operator, you’re responsible for everybody on board.”
DEEP is asking any witnesses or anyone who has information about the incident to contact the Environmental Conservation Police Department at (800) 842-4357 and refer all information to Conservation Enforcement Officer Megan Erickson — case number 22-10902.
EnCon Police and the Boat Accident Reconstruction Unit are continuing to investigate the cause of the crash.
Stay with wtnh.com and the News 8 app for updates.