Nine Hospitalized After Tour Boat Crash

Tuesday, Aug 7, 2012  |  Updated 8:29 PM CDT
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It was a beautiful night for a cruise on the Chicago River, and all went well until The Lila tried to dock. Marion Brooks reports.

It was a beautiful night for a cruise on the Chicago River, and all went well until The Lila tried to dock. Marion Brooks reports.

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Wendella, Coast Guard Investigating Boat Crash

The vessel Lila, of Wendella Boat Tours, crashed into a dock Monday. Natalie Martinez spoke with a company spokesman.
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Nine tour boat passengers were hospitalized when the vessel crashed into a dock along the Chicago River Monday afternoon Downtown.

The boat, "The Lila" of Wendella Boat Tours, with 144 passengers and six crew members, crashed into a dock in the 400 block of North Michigan Avenue about 5:35 p.m.

"We asked the captain what happened and he said the reverse engine wouldn't start," said passenger Alex Gomez, who was visiting from Mexico. "He couldn't stop the ship."

Karen Schmidt of Toronto was nearby when she said she heard the crash.

"There was just a big 'boom,' and then the next thing I saw, I saw all the chairs that were flying and people were laying down on the top end," said Schmidt.

Nine people, all passengers, were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.

In a statement, Wendella said it is "very concerned with the guests who were on board" and extended its well wishes.

Seven people were taken in good condition to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center or St. Joseph Hospital, two people were taken in good condition to Northwestern Memorial Hospital and 11 people refused hospitalization after being examined on the scene, the fire department said.

The company said it is conducting a investigation with the United States Coast Guard.

Wendella is a third-generation, family-owned business that's been working on the Chicago River since 1935, the company said.

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