A 33-foot boat hit a breakwall at Burns Harbor, Ind., early Wednesday morning, injuring two people aboard.
Alcohol is being investigated, but so far no specific cause has been revealed.
"It was pitch black and they were running at a high rate of speed," says Conservation officer Gene Davis with the Department of natural resources
The Coast Guard sent a rescue vessel to the boat, rescuing the passengers around 4 a.m. after receiving a distress call around 3:15 a.m. The two men were not wearing life jackets, according to a Coast Guard press release.
The owner is identified as Steven Stewart of Lake Station, Ind., who suffered broken bones and was taken to Porter Memorial Hospital in Valparaiso. Stewart said he just bought the boat on Tuesday.
His passenger, Raymond Snow, of Portage, Ind., underwent surgery and at last check was listed in critical condition.
The scenario also a huge concern for the Chicago Police Marine Patrol.
"Inexperience is the first thing that clicks into my mind," said Sgt. Ray Mazzola.
Only the ends of the break wall at Navy Pier are lit at night, and Mazzola said boaters need to pay attention and know their boating areas.
The Coast Guard each year records thousands of boating accidents nationwide. Last year in Lake Michigan the number of boating fatalities doubled to 77. Already this year there have been 21.
Marine Units can stop any boat anytime for safety inspections. Fines run $100 to $500 dollars.
Mazzola offered several safety tips:
- All boaters need to wear life jackets. In 84 percent of boating deaths, the victims were not wearing one.
- Never operate a boat while consuming alcohol. Two in 10 boating accidents can be attributed to Operating While Intoxicated.
- Never swim off a boat alone. If you do swim, make sure it's anchored so the boat doesn't drift away.
- Know the forecast. Many boaters head out in the sun only to get stuck in a sudden storm.
- Get a Marine Radio. Cell phone signals diminish off the lakefront.
It's not just about boating safety. A 55-year-old Chicago man, Jorge Martinez, drowned after jumping into the water at Belmont Harbor just before midnight Wednesday.
"He barely knows how to swim," said the victim's sister, Elido Porto.
Martinez had just turned his life around after months at the San Jose Obrero Mission, where
Executive Director Israel Vargas everyone is feeling pain over the death.