UPDATE: Two hurt when hit by boat on Wintler Park beach

Vessel’s thrust onto a Columbia River beach puts clusters of sunbathers to flight

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Updated: May 12, 2012, 9:57 PM

 
Boat crashes into beach
photoA police officer talks to the operator of a boat during the investigation of a boating accident at Wintler Park on Saturday.

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photoA Vancouver Police officer watches a tape line as others investigate a boating accident at Wintler Park on Saturday. The driver of the boat is being interviewed by another officer near the waterfront.

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photoPolice investigate a boating accident at Wintler Park on Saturday while people who had gone to the beach to enjoy the warm afternoon watch. Near the water, an officer interviews the man who reportedly beached his powerboat amid clusters of people, injuring two.

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Two local men were treated and released from a local hospital after being hit by an out-of-control powerboat Saturday.

Sgt. Dennis Pritchard, with the Clark County Sheriff's marine unit, said Monday afternoon that Tyler Travis, 18, of Camas, suffered a leg injury. He was among a group of people enjoying the sun when the powerboat plowed up on the beach Saturday afternoon at Wintler Park.

John Burris, 49, of Vancouver, was waist-deep in the Columbia River when he wound up in the boat's path, Pritchard said.

The 28-foot Nordic powerboat finally coasted to a halt, its propeller just out of the water.

The two men were treated at the scene, then transported by ambulance to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, said Vancouver Fire Department firefighter Joe Spatz.

“There have been no arrests at this time,” Sgt. Mike Davis, Vancouver Police Department spokesman, said at 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

In a news release issued an hour later, Davis said that the operator of the boat, Derek Dinwiddie, 35, is cooperating with investigators.

The boat was impounded by the Clark County Sheriff’s Office marine unit, which was examining the vessel today.

At this time, alcohol does not appear to have been a factor, Davis said.

Several clusters of swim-suited people were relaxing on blankets spread out on the sand at about 3:20 p.m., enjoying temperatures in the 80s.

After the incident, Vella Jackson and several friends were just outside the yellow police tape that had been set up around the beached boat, watching as an officer interviewed a man witnesses said had been at the boat’s controls.

But just a few minutes earlier, Jackson said, “I was sitting where the boat is.”

Jackson said she was on the phone when “I heard people screaming. (The boat) was 10 feet away, and coming right at us.”

Jackson and most of the others in its path scrambled to safety, but the two men couldn’t evade the boat.

“A guy in the water was hit in the face,” she said.

Keyona Glosser, who was with Jackson, said she grabbed her bag as she scrambled away. But Glosser realized what a close call she’d had when she checked her bag. Her phone was broken.

Jessica Petree, who was part of another group on the beach, said, “I heard someone yell ‘Stop! Stop! Stop!’ I saw it coming at me, and I crawled away.”

Several men in the powerboat didn’t seem to be concerned after their craft struck two men and sent others lunging for safety.

“You could see them laughing,” Jackson said.

Although a sizeable section of the beach was cordoned off, a lot of people remained on blankets just beyond the tape, enjoying the sun a few yards from the investigation.

Jackson had a practical reason for staying put.

“My shoes are still under the boat,” she said.

The rescue was complicated by the large number of vehicles and people in the park at 6500 S.E. Beach Drive, just south of state Highway 14, Spatz said.

Tom Vogt: 360-735-4558; http://twitter.com/col_history; tom.vogt@columbian.com.