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Transcript for Boat Accident

On screen text: On May 5, 2018, a serious boating crash occurred with a coastal regulatory buoy on the Piscataqua River in Newington, NH.

On screen text: The crash was devastating, killing two passengers and injuring a third, as well as the operator.

On screen text: An investigation by the NH State Police – Marine Patrol revealed the cause of the crash was due to distracted boat operation.

On screen text: The number one cause of boating accidents in the United States is distracted boat operation.

Speaker: Boating can be a lot of fun. But, as in the story I’m investigating today, you also need to remember it comes with great responsibility. And you must always keep your attention on the water. To help me understand this better, I met with the New Hampshire State Police Marine Patrol, looking at one particular boating trip that happened last year. A boating trip that started out fun but, because of distracted driving, ended in a collision with a navigational buoy. I’m out here with Sergeant Dirth, where I’m retracing the last steps that were taken by Mr. Wickman, the boat captain, his two grandkids, and his girlfriend.

Joshua Dirth: Well, this goes back—it started out as just an evening cruise. They were doing what a lot of people like to do. They were having a good time. Last picture that was taken on that particular day shows all the passengers up there on the front of the boat, obviously having a good time, enjoying where they are, enjoying New Hampshire water. Unfortunately, the night just did not end well.

Speaker: And this bridge is really the start of this story.

Joshua Dirth: We actually have bridge footage video of them coming through.

Speaker: I see the cameras right there.

Joshua Dirth: That’s it, right there.

Speaker: These cameras captured the last video of them before the accident. Before this, it was a happy day on the water.

John Wickman: It was our first launch of the year. And we thought we’d take the opportunity to squeeze in a little trip out on the water, just before it got dark. The two grandchildren and my girlfriend were very, very excited to be on the water for that. You know, for the first time, it’s always a treat. I had my GPS on. And I wanted to put my boat on top of the line that I had made on the way out.

Speaker: So if he’s sitting here and he is looking straight out this way, would he have been able to see the obstruction?

Joshua Dirth: He would have been. Unfortunately, his attention went from his GPS to his passengers. His GPS, his passengers, his GPS.

Speaker: Tragically, this distracted driving kept him from seeing what was right in front of him.

John Wickman: We collided with the buoy, which I never saw.

Speaker: So this is the buoy right here.

Joshua Dirth: It is. That’s Green 13.

Speaker: You can even see the impact marks from it.

Joshua Dirth: Yeah, the transfers is definitely visible. You can see the fiberglass transfer, the deep pattern from the hull making impact with it. We have to remember, that’s a 6,000-pound buoy. So when it impacted, it’s like hitting a brick wall. But it was a nearly direct hit with Green 13. You can see all the green transfer marks that are on the fiberglass.

Speaker: Oh, this is all from the buoy.

Joshua Dirth: It is.

John Wickman: My grandson was bleeding severely, on his back, from his mouth. And he was choking on his blood. And he was semiconscious, so I rolled him over first so that he would bleed out and not drown on his own blood.

My girlfriend was laying flat on her stomach, unconscious. And she was bleeding from the nose and the ears.

My granddaughter was missing. And thank God that when I turned around and went down to the debris field, sure enough, she was in it. And I’m trying to do CPR and get her to come to, and the river is coming out of her mouth. It wasn’t good.

Joshua Dirth: He lost his longtime girlfriend, Laurie Stewart, and his granddaughter, Kaillen Wickman, as a result of this crash. His grandson, Mikey, he sustained serious injuries as a result of the crash.

John Wickman: There is no replay in real life when this stuff happens. You have to pay attention at all times.

Speaker: Is this an accident that was preventable?

Joshua Dirth: Yeah, this case is absolutely preventable. Had more attention been on navigating and not on this piece of equipment and trying to understand that, I think we would have had a very different outcome.

Speaker: Part of being a responsible boater who goes out and enjoys themselves and has a great time with their family is to know that anything can happen out there. Even a moment—just a moment—of distracted driving could end in tragedy. And this could happen to anyone. So the take-home really is keep your eyes on the water and always be ever-vigilant.

On-screen text: In memory of Laurie Stewart and Kaillen Wickman

On-screen text: Produced in partnership between [New Hampshire Marine Patrol logo] [Kalkomey logo]

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