The bad news is that four people were ejected from a boat during the 15th annual Boyne Thunder Poker Run in Northern Michigan last Saturday. The good news is that all six people—two remained in the boat—are alive, with fairly minor injuries, to talk about it.
Fortunately everyone in the accident on Lake Michigan last Saturday was wearing life vests. Photo by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix
It was late Saturday afternoon, while working on my highlights story about one the country’s coolest and most charitable events from my room at the Boyne Mountain Resort in Boyne City, Mich., when I received the news that everyone in an Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats 37 Stiletto that spun out in between card stop three in Bay Harbor and card stop four in Harbor Springs was OK.
I exhaled as almost two hours earlier I heard the 1998 37-foot V-bottom owned by Steven and Jenny McCormack of Marne, Mich., was carrying CK Performance Marine’s Mike Holford and his wife, Sarah, who I was just talking to over a cup of coffee during the drivers meeting.
There wasn’t much news to release at that point, but I’m happy to report that the accident was addressed, although details on everyone’s condition weren’t released at the time, during the poker run awards party that night. And what Bob Alger, one of the board members of the event, stressed to the group of several hundred people was that it was a good thing they were wearing their life vests.
I couldn’t have agreed more, and the same went for Holford, who called me on Sunday afternoon to confirm that his wife had a fractured pelvis and was being transported to Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, Mich.. By Sunday evening I received photos of the boat’s transom and drives (see slideshow below) and read a story on the Petoskey News website about those injured in the accident on Little Traverse Bay, but it was nice to get Holford’s take when he called me on Tuesday to let me know Sarah was being released from the hospital that evening. The gameplan, he said, was to let the eggshell fracture of her pelvis heal on its own, which means no activity for 10 to 12 weeks.
“First of all, Steve drives like a pro—I’ve known him for 15 years and I’ve very comfortable riding in a boat with him,” said Holford, who downplayed his sore knee being that his wife has the longest road to recovery. “After getting a chance to see the damage to the boat, it’s clear to me there’s nothing Steve could have done differently. We definitely hit something in the water—there’s red paint on the lower unit of the drive and the impact ripped the top part of the drive off causing the boat to spin out—we just don’t know what we hit.
Check out the slideshow above for more images.
“I truly believe we had someone watching over us,” Holford continued. “I have to thank Jason and Laurie Moe for their help as we were able to get Sarah and Steve’s wife, Jenny, on their 51-foot Outerlimits to get them to shore more comfortably. Also, thanks to his incredible medical training, Doc Janssen has been super helpful and reassuring during this entire process.”
Steve McCormack also thanked several people who stepped up to help after the accident, including his brother and sister in law, Joel and Kristyn Kragt, Dave and Trish Shaeffer from T&D Custom Painting, and two friends who joined him for the run, Matt Heath and Kathy Kirk (Mike Holford and Kirk were the two people not ejected). He said each one of those people went above and beyond the call of duty to get the boat out of the water and on the trailer as well as cleaning up the broken parts and getting everything back home from Boyne City.
After being thrown from the boat, both Sarah and Jenny, who has undetermined injuries to her left arm, were taken to McLaren Northern Michigan Hospital in Petoskey, and then transported to Spectrum Health on Sunday.
According to a press release from Emmet County Sheriff Pete Wallin, the passengers in the boat were rescued from the water by another boat participating in the poker run, the Moes’ Outerlimits. The sheriff said the marine division deputies escorted the rescuing vessel to the Petoskey marina where they were met by Emmet County EMS. Assisting the Emmet County Sheriff’s Office were Harbor Springs Police Department Marine Division, Petoskey Department of Public Safety and Emmet County EMS.
“The point I want to make by talking about the accident is that this could happen to anyone—so people, please wear your life jackets,” Holford said. “I know it’s required at a lot of the events so most people are good about it in that situation. But I also know we’re all guilty of not wearing them sometimes. Even just going out for a quick run to dinner and cruising at 60, 70 or 80 mph, something could go wrong. Just think about what your life is worth. Is it worth not wearing a life vest because it’s bulky or uncomfortable? I don’t think so.”
The Holfords both had substantial, high-impact-style Lifeline vests on, while the other four people wore suspender-style inflatable ones, which also worked as anticipated.
“I know they’re not cheap, but I think the Lifeline vests are the way to go as I’ve never been confident in the inflatable ones—but anything is better than nothing as this accident proved,” Holford added. “If we can save just one life by sharing this story than it’s worth it.”