Fisherman who jumped into river to avoid oncoming motorboat sues helmsman
It looked like a scene straight out of the classic comedy “Caddyshack,” but this time the big boat speeding toward the smaller one was no laughing matter.
A fisherman who was caught on camera jumping from said smaller boat into the Columbia River to avoid being struck by an oncoming much bigger motorboat last summer has filed a lawsuit for $372,500 against the other driver, The Oregonian reports.
Bryan Maess filed the suit against Marlin Lee Larsen, accusing him of boating while distracted by his cell phone. But Larsen denies the allegations and told investigators he couldn’t see over the dash of his boat because he was sitting down. The 75-year-old uses a motorized scooter when he’s on land.
The video of the collision, captured by an onboard GoPro mounted to the dash of Maess’ 20-foot Weldcraft fishing boat, shows him and fellow passengers Christopher McMahon and Roni Durham frantically waving their arms and yelling as Larsen’s 31-foot Bayliner speeds toward them. The three then jump into the icy water moments before the boat comes crashing over the top of theirs.
According to a report by the local sheriff’s department, drugs and alcohol did not appear to be a factor, but Larsen was cited and released for “Reckless Operation, 3 counts of Recklessly Endangering and 3 counts of Assault in the 4th degree.”
Larsen told The Oregonian the accusation against him was “fake news.” He pleaded not guilty to the charges and said the lawsuit was unnecessary because no one was seriously hurt. His son-in-law, who was also on the boat at the time of the accident, told investigators he warned Larsen to pay attention and that he’d been using his cellphone off and on all morning.
Sheriff’s investigators said that Maess and the others onboard would have likely been seriously injured or killed had they not jumped into the water, according to The Oregonian.
Maess claims he suffered from vision problems, headaches and injuries to his ankle, leg and arm from the crash. His attorney said he’s also dealing with psychological trauma and hasn’t been on a boat since the crash. McMahon and Durham also suffered injuries, including hypothermia and cuts, The Oregonian reports.
McMahon and Durham have yet to file lawsuits but have reportedly hired attorneys to do so.