About the Fatal Lake Michigan Boat Accident
Authorities believe the boat left from Burnham Harbor on Saturday and traveled to New Buffalo, Mich. before heading back to Burnham Harbor. The boat is reported to have caught fire and capsized at 7 p.m. Saturday approximately 7 miles from the 31st Street Marina, causing four passengers to enter the water.
The captain of the ship was found the next morning at about 6 a.m. by the captain of charter fishing boat. The man was taken to Mercy Hospital and Medical Center in critical condition where he was treated for hypothermia. As of Monday, he was is reported in stable condition.
A second victim, Ashley Haws, was found a few hours later. Haws was also transported to Mercy Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Recue crews from the U.S. Coast Guard and Chicago Police and Fire Departments searched for a combined 43 hours and covered more than 1,600 square miles looking for two more victims. The two missing are described as a 27-year-old woman and 30-year-old male.
The Coast Guard has suspended its search operations and any further searches will be conducted by the Chicago Police Marine Unit. So far only limited debris from the capsized boat has been found.
Boating Accident Statistics
In 2013, there were approximately 4,062 recreational boating accidents that resulted in 560 fatalities, 2,620 injuries, and an estimated $39 million dollars in property damage, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. The top five primary contributing factors to accidents were: operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed, and machinery failure.