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‘Time stopped for me’: Witness describes aftermath of fatal boat crash

A resident of a home on a lake north of Kingston, Ont., where three people died in a boat crash is shaken after he and his brother were among the first to respond to the collision.

Ontario Provincial Police say the crash happened in the Buck Bay area of Bobs Lake after 9:30 p.m. Saturday, involving “an open bow fishing-style boat” and a speedboat.

Three people were pronounced dead at the scene, including a 21-year-old woman and 23-year-old man from South Frontenac Township and a 22-year-old woman from Elginburg, Ont. OPP say five other people aged between 21 to 44 were taking to hospital in Kingston with varying injuries.

‘I wish we could have done more’

Tony Hammond, who lives on Bobs Lake, heard the crash Saturday from his cottage deck.

He had seen a group of young people on a fishing boat across the bay earlier that evening. He said they were playing music and having a good time. 

Then he heard the distinctive roar of a speed boat’s engine and the sound of the crash.

“We heard the crunch,” Hammond told CBC on Monday. “Time stopped for me.”

He rushed to phone 911, then took a boat out onto the water to survey the situation along with his brother. 

Hammond said they found debris and a woman’s body in the lake. They attempted to perform CPR to resuscitate her, though were unsuccessful. 

“We got her out as fast as humanly possible,” he recalled. “There were no signs of life.” 

Hammond said he continued searching the waters for another 30 to 45 minutes, until search and rescue arrived, but he only had a flashlight. 

“I wish we could have done more.” 

‘Boat responsibly,’ boating safety expert urges

Frontenac OPP are investigating the incident, assisted by a collision reconstructionist and members of the technical collision investigation team.

Police say the collision reconstructionist will work to examine both boats.

Boating at night can be a challenge, a safety expert said. 

“When you’re boating out there at night, you really have to be cognisant of other people that could be out there,” said Ian Gilson, director of the Canadian Safe Boating Council.

A lake on a sunny spring day.
The calm waters of Bobs Lake north of Kingston, Ont., on May 19, 2024. The night before, two boats collided on the lake, killing three people and injuring five others. (Camille Kasisi-Monet/Radio-Canada)

Visibility is reduced at night – an effect that can be amplified due to glare caused by boat lights, other surrounding lights and the increased risk of fog in the spring and summer months that often results from varying air and water temperatures, Gilson explained.

He said boaters should always wear a life jacket and boat sober.

At night, additional safety considerations are required. Boaters should ensure that their boat lights are on and that they’re advancing at a cautious speed. It’s also important, he said, that boaters remain alert in case sounds or sights of approaching boaters emerge. 

Gilson emphasized the Canadian Safe Boating Council wants people to enjoy boating. But in order for it to be a pleasurable experience, he said, it’s important boaters “respect” the water and be mindful of their surroundings.

“Just don’t do risky things … and just boat responsibly.”

WATCH | Neighbour tried to help after fatal boat crash: 

Neighbour rushed to help after deadly Ontario boat crash

9 hours ago

Duration 1:48

A cottager who heard the impact of a boat crash from across Bobs Lake in eastern Ontario rushed to help, and says that night is seared into his memory. Three people were killed and five others were injured in the long weekend collision.

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