Man hospitalized after grounding boat

Posted: Monday, June 04, 2001

A Juneau resident with apparent health problems ran his cabin cruiser about 30 feet up onto shore near the North Douglas boat ramp Sunday afternoon.

The man, 55, whose name has not been released, experienced severe head pain and fainting spells on May 18, said Sheryl Washburn, patient care administrator for Bartlett Regional Hospital. At that time he was treated in Bartlett's emergency room and released. He apparently suffered the same symptoms about 2:30 p.m. Sunday, she said, before he lost control and ran his craft onto the beach.

"He was driving his boat close to shore," said Capt. Pete Hettinger of Capital City Fire & Rescue, incident commander for the accident response. "For whatever reason, he lost consciousness and ran his boat up on shore - like 30 feet from the shore."

The craft, a 24-foot Bayliner cabin cruiser rigged for sport fishing, was grounded about half a mile southeast of the North Douglas boat ramp, Hettinger said.

Many volunteers responded, Hettinger said, because they originally did not know how many people were involved in the incident.

"His wife called the accident in. The story goes that she was on shore photographing the boat and the next thing she knew he ran the boat on shore." The man was the only person aboard at the time, Hettinger said.

The U.S. Coast Guard responded with one boat crew, said Petty Officer Darrell Wilson.

"As we were headed toward the scene, the Juneau Police Department and the fire department reported they were already on the scene. We took a look at the boat to see what kind of shape it was in. And we checked with Bartlett, who said the individual was not intoxicated - that a medical condition caused (the accident)," Wilson said.

The man was medevaced to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, leaving Juneau about 8 p.m., Washburn said.

The man is "in serious condition with a head injury," said Harborview spokeswoman Susan Gregg-Hanson this morning. She did not know what caused the injury.

Ann Chandonnet can be reached at

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