Charter boat hits Bonner Bridge, three injured

By on August 5, 2013

The Sandra D was intentionally run aground to keep it from sinking. (Mike Johnson)

The Sandra D was intentionally run aground to prevent it from sinking. (Mike Johnson)

A charter boat out of Pirates Cove Marina hit a piling of the Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet Monday, injuring three people.

The bridge was not damaged, according to NCDOT inspectors, and remains open to vehicular traffic.

Three people suffered minor injuries in the early morning collision, and the boat was partially submerged in Oregon Inlet, according to Dare County public information officer Dorothy Killingsworth.

The 58-foot Sandra D hit a bridge support while trying to pass under the auxiliary navigation span, said NCDOT spokesperson Hollie Allen.

Two rescue boats were sent out by the Coast Guard after a boater who saw the collision called for help at about 5:45 a.m. Nine people were on the Sandra D. The seven passengers were taken off by the other boater.

The collision tore a 5-foot by 10-foot hole in the boat’s hull, and the captain intentionally grounded it to keep it from sinking, the Coast Guard said in a statement.

One of the rescue boats picked up the skipper and a crew member. The other Coast Guard vessel picked up the seven passengers from the nearby boat and took them back to shore to be checked by waiting emergency medical workers.

The NCDOT said the boat hit the support to the right, outside the main navigation span. (Rob Morris photo)

The NCDOT said the boat hit a support to the south of the main navigation span. (Rob Morris photo)

Because of severe shoaling around the channel under the navigation span, charter and recreational boaters routinely use a route between bridge pilings to the south where there are no markers. The Coast Guard does not recognize it as a navigation channel.

The Coast Guard issued a marine safety broadcast concerning the Sandra D’s position and its potential as a hazard to navigation.

“The mariners and the Coast Guard are extremely lucky that there were no significant injuries or damage to the bridge in this collision,” said Lt. Lane Munroe, the command center chief at Coast Guard Sector North Carolina.

“Mariners are reminded to use marked channels and transit at safe speeds to minimize the inherent risk of boating in the vicinity of structures.

“Using alternate bridge spans, which do not have fender systems to protect the bridge from vessel strikes and are not marked with navigational aids, greatly increases the risk to the boating public as well as the vehicles using the bridge.”

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