Niagara Gazette

July 21, 2013

Boats collide on Niagara River between Tonawanda and Grand Island

Staff Reports
Niagara Gazette

A Lockport man was operating a boat without its navigation lights on when he struck his vessel into another boat Saturday night on the Niagara River. 

The boat was traveling westbound at about 10:30 p.m. when it struck the second, eastbound-moving vessel. 

"It wasn't a head-on collision, more of a T-bone," Lt. Fredric Foels said. 

The Lockport man — whose name was not released — hit the boat's windshield and was knocked unconscious. No other passengers were on the boat, and it erratically coasted in circles before crashing into the Grand Island shore. 

The man suffered severe facial injuries and was transported to Erie County Medical Center, where he was put in a medically induced coma Saturday night. 

The second boat, which was occupied by a male and a female — also unnamed, was also cracked open in the crash and took on water. The pair was able to nurse the boat to the City of Tonawanda shore near Niawanda Park. 

The woman on the second boat had minor injuries, police said. 

The large boat was towed from the Tonawanda side at 12:30 a.m. with vegetation stuck into a gash on its port side.

City of Tonawanda police, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Erie County Sheriff's Department helicopter were involved in the rescue. 

The Tonawanda police boat was on the river for Canal Fest and was able to assist the Lockport man whose boat crashed into Grand Island, while officers on land assisted the victims who had made their way to the city's shore.  

"We were lucky the police boat was still on the water. It got there very quickly," Foels said. 

Foels said the investigation of the crash is continuing, but witnesses have told police that the striking boat did not have navigation lights on.