LAKE GAGE, Ind. (WANE) – A 20-year-old Fort Wayne woman was arrested Saturday evening for boating while intoxicated, according to Indiana Department of Natural Resources law enforcement.
Around 7:13 p.m. July 15, a 21-foot boat operated by Dominique Effinger made a violent turn and threw 10 people into the water, according to DNR Spokesman James Price.
Two people were airlifted to a Fort Wayne hospital — one with a skull fracture and another with a partial lower arm amputation. Other people who were hurt were taken to a hospital in Angola with non-life-threatening injuries. A DNR statement said an initial report to conservation officers indicated four injured, but the exact number of people injured has not been confirmed.
Price said the unmanned boat circled in the water at approximately 30 mph. As it neared shore, Conservation Officer Jake Carlile threw a rope around the boat’s propeller in an attempt to get it slowed down. Carlile wrangled the boat, but it struck a pier and then rear-ended Carlile’s boat.
His boat became disabled, but Carlile used another boat to eventually get into the unmanned boat and stop it.
Sabrina Minser, who provided an eyewitness account of the incident, told 24-Hour News 8’s sister station NewsChannel 15 that her husband escorted a paramedic out onto the water via a jet ski. Price said several others helped take victims from the water to the shore so that arriving paramedics and firefighters could begin treatment.
DNR investigators said Effinger was operating the boat on Lake Gage at high speeds. They believe she was under the influence of alcohol.
Effinger was charged in a Steuben County court with operating a motorboat while intoxicated resulting in serious bodily injury to another person and operating a motorboat with an alcohol concentration equivalent to at least .08 resulting in serious bodily injury to another person, both felonies. Effinger also faces misdemeanor charges of operating a motorboat while intoxicated, operating a motorboat with an alcohol concentration equivalent to at least .08 and minor consuming alcohol.
Effinger will be formally arraigned later, the prosecutor’s office said.
The office added: “There are aspects of the investigation that are ongoing, including discovery of the full extent of some of the injuries. Depending on the outcome of that investigation, the filing of additional charges is possible.”