Alcohol a factor in at least two July 4th boating accidents in Southeast Michigan, police say

Alcohol is suspected in at least two boating accidents that happened in Southeast Michigan over the holiday on Thursday.

At least one person was seriously injured during a mishap on a Commerce Township lake on Thursday, police said.

Law enforcement was kept busy during the summer holiday after vacationers flocked to inland rivers and lakes throughout the metro area. That includes North Commerce Lake and Union Lake in Oakland County, where two incidents took place within minutes of each other.

In North Commercie Lake, the Oakland County Sheriff's Search and Rescue Team received a report just before 6 p.m. about an unresponsive man floating in the water. An investigation revealed the 20-year-old Commerce Township man was on a pontoon boat near a sandbar when he dove off the side, striking his head on the bottom of the lake.

According to a news release, onlookers who saw the man pulled him from the lake. He was later taken to the hospital with serious injuries. He was not wearing a life jacket and investigators suspect he was under the influence of alcohol.

Just 15 minutes before that, at Union Lake where a 32-year-old Waterford Township man was on a jetski when he fell off. The watercraft continued for an unknown distance before striking a pontoon boat. A woman who was laying at the rear of the boat suffered minor injuries.

Further south in Monore County, the sheriff's office responded to a boat crash that happened on Lake Erie in the Bolles Harbor channel. It happened around 11:30 p.m. and left a 62-year-old father and his 38-year-old son needing rescue.

Preliminary information from police found the two were driving a 26-foot-boat when - for unknown reasons - the watercraft crashed into a seawall, rupturing the boat's hull and partially sinking it.

Both victims were taken to a local hospital in Toledo with critical injuries. Police believe both speed and alcohol are factors. 

When it comes to booze and boats, police want operators to treat them the same as they should when driving a car. Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham told FOX 2 that just like when behind the wheel, someone driving a boat cannot have an alcohol level over .08.

Most of the calls his deputies get during this time of year are for reckless driving and no wake violations.  


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