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Three injured in collision involving Maine water taxi, pleasure boat

Feb 25, 2014 01:52 PM
The 20-foot recreational boat Miss M is temporarily stored along the Portland, Maine, shoreline after it was damaged in a collision involving the Casco Bay water taxi Bay Express.

Doreen Parlin

The 20-foot recreational boat Miss M is temporarily stored along the Portland, Maine, shoreline after it was damaged in a collision involving the Casco Bay water taxi Bay Express.

A water taxi and a recreational boat collided on Maine’s Casco Bay, resulting in three injuries.

The water taxi was transporting U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine from a wedding on Chebeague Island, about five miles from Portland Harbor. Pingree was not injured.

The Portland Fire Department received a call at 2214 on Sept. 7, 2013, reporting that the 24-foot water taxi, Bay Express, and Miss M, a 20-foot Grady White Overnighter, collided.

The incident occurred off the southern quarter of the island of Fort Gorges, according to Maine Marine Patrol Officer Scott Couture. The water taxi was carrying seven passengers and Miss M was carrying two people.

Visibility was five miles and the wind was 5 knots with 1-foot seas, according to Lt. Scott McCann, of Coast Guard Sector Northern New England in South Portland.

Bay Express, owned by Portland Express Water Taxi, was traveling from Chebeague to Portland Harbor. Miss M was traveling from the harbor to Peaks Island, according to McCann. Due to the pending investigation, he could not release information on both vessels’ speed and direction or what caused the collision.

“Part of the determination is whether or not (the two boats) were using the proper lights and had the proper safety equipment aboard,” said McCann.

“Damage was significant on the recreational boat,” said Couture. “The lights had been smashed right off the bow.” He said Miss M had a combined red and green light on its bow. Officials did not reveal what damage Bay Express suffered.

Both city fireboats responded, according to Portland Deputy Fire Chief Robert Wassick. A 25-foot Coast Guard response boat also was on scene. The injured suffered trauma, bruises and small cuts on the head from being jostled around, Wassick said. Both operators were conscious and alert.

Also aboard the water taxi was S. Donald Sussman, Pingree’s husband and majority owner of Maine Today Media. He suffered cuts on his head and was treated at Maine Medical Center (MMC), according to Pingree’s spokesman Willy Ritch.

Another passenger aboard the water taxi was injured, as was one passenger on Miss M. The other two injured were also treated at MMC.

A Coast Guard test on scene found that the operator of the water taxi tested negative for both drugs and alcohol, according to McCann. The result of a Breathalyzer test given by the Portland Police Department to the operator of Miss M was negative, McCann said.

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