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Two injured when boat smacks wave during powerboat rally

WZZM-TV • Jul 23, 2017 at 8:58 AM

Two people were injured after a boating accident on Saturday. One person was airlifted to the hospital.

The incident happened around 10:30 a.m., a half mile offshore from Brucker Beach, which is two miles south of Grand Haven State Park beach.

According to the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office, a 35-foot powerboat, driven by William Gibson of Hudsonville, was traveling at a high rate of speed when it hit a wave causing William and his wife Renae to be thrown against the dash of the boat. They were not thrown into the water. Two other people onboard were not injured.

Photo Gallery: Powerboats take over Municipal Marina

"We came down here to the beach and they were bringing somebody in off of a boat," witness John Arminioz, said. "There were actually two people who came up to the shore here. One looked like he had a broken arm. The other person they put on some type of stretcher."

Witnesses of the incident say the victims were participating in a boating event put on by West Michigan Offshore Powerboat Club. All the boaters were leaving the Grand Haven area and headed to Holland.

"Our event today was called the Rock the Coast and we were running from Grand Haven to Holland," said event organizer Roger Zuidema. "As the boats were going, the waves started to kick up a little bit more. We were seeing that there were 3-5 footers as we headed towards Holland. One of our members boats unfortunately hit a wave and the members were thrown."

Zuidema says the event helicopter flying over the boaters to take photos came down to try and help the victims before emergency responders were called. He says one person was having trouble-breathing. According to the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office, Renae was unconscious when rescue crews arrived.

Marine patrol deputies and a crew from Coast Guard Station Grand Haven moved the injured couple to the Sheriff’s boat and transported them to Brucker Beach, where paramedics and Grand Haven Township firefighters waited to assist.

Renae was transported by ambulance to the Grand Haven Airport, and transferred to Aeromed for flight to Spectrum Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, where she was in critical condition, according to Sgt. Bob Ruster of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office. She suffered a closed head injury and multiple facial lacerations.

William was transported to North Ottawa Community Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Ruster said.He had a broken arm and a closed head injury.

"Our prayers go out the to the family and as boaters we are a close group of people," he said. "We just care for everyone safety, so we're hoping all for the best," Zuidema said.

"It can happen to anyone so you want to be careful," witness, Peter Brohm, said. "When you're out there be prepared if it's choppy you might want to think twice about going back out."

Renae Gibson is an employee at WZZM 13. 

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