PRIEST LAKE — Three people were injured late Wednesday after a speedboat crashed broadside into a cabin cruiser at Luby Bay.
One person was flown by Life Flight to Kootenai Medical Center with serious head trauma and two others were driven to Newport Community Hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening, said Bonner County EMS spokesman Bob Abbott.
Names of the injured were not disclosed by authorities, so their conditions could not be ascertained.
The crash happened at about 11:30 p.m. on the west side of the lake, reportedly after a fireworks display at Hill’s Resort.
Abbott said the smaller speedboat crashed into the 31-foot cabin cruiser amidships at speed.
“One of the responders who saw the bigger boat afterward said it looked like a tornado went through the cabin area,” said Abbott.
Five people were aboard the speed boat and two were aboard the cabin cruiser.
It was not immediately clear if anybody on the smaller boat was thrown into the water during the collision.
“The larger boat managed to limp itself to shore,” said Abbott, adding that the occupants were checked by medical staff and did not require transport to a hospital.
A Bonner County sheriff’s marine patrol boat and a vessel from the West Priest Lake Fire District shuttled the passengers of the smaller boat to shore, Abbott said.
Two ambulances from Priest Lake Ambulance responded, as did a Bonner County EMS ambulance and two paramedic chase rigs. Newport Ambulance also responded.
“This was, by protocol, a mass-casualty incident,” said Abbott of the five-victim threshold observed by the county.
Lieutenant Ed Jochum, supervisor of the sheriff’s marine patrol, said the crash remains under investigation and the identities of those involved are being withheld at this time.
There have been no boating-related fatalities on a lake in Bonner County since the disastrous summer of 2010, when three people were killed on Lake Pend Oreille in two separate crashes.
“Water calls are always awful, but everything went beautifully,” Abbott said of the multi-agency response to the call.