Sugar Valley boating accident injures two children
A boat towing two children on an inflated device struck a dock at Sugar Valley Lake on Friday, July 6, injuring the two children. (Wix file photo)
By Roger Sims, Journal staff
MOUND CITY – Two children were injured, one seriously, in a boating accident at Sugar Valley Lake on Thursday, July 6. Both children, around 10 to 12 years old, were taken to Kansas City metro area hospitals; one was taken by air ambulance.
According to Mitch Falls, game warden with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, the children were on an inflatable raft being towed by a boat when the raft struck a dock. Both children were ejected from the raft with one landing in a boat adjacent to the dock.
The game warden said that the rule of thumb on the lake is that boats travel in a clockwise direction around the lake. The operator of the boat apparently entered a cove in a counterclockwise direction and when he tried to swing the boat around, the tube hit the deck and threw the children.
Falls said that one of the children suffered a broken leg and was taken to Children’s Mercy Hospital for surgery. The other child suffered less serious injuries and was released after an overnight stay at University of Kansas Hospital.
Falls said both children are expected to recover from their injuries.
The accident was called into Linn County dispatch about 5:30 p.m. Falls said he was notified and arrived at Sugar Valley about 6:20 p.m. He said when he arrived, one of the children was in an ambulance and the other had already been loaded into the helicopter.
Game wardens make reports on boating accidents in Kansas, and those reports are turned over to the U.S. Coast Guard. Falls said the Linn County Sheriff’s deputies had already responded to the accident scene by the time he arrived.
He said that two men who were on the boat, people on the dock and deputies rendered first aid to the children before the ambulances arrived.
Falls also said that by the time he arrived, the boat involved in the accident had left. He said that because other children were on board during the incident, the boat driver took them home.
The game warden said that he and a deputy were able to locate the driver of the boat and interview him a couple hours after the accident happened.
In a phone interview, a person who asked to remain anonymous said that several lake residents reported to the Sugar Valley Property Owners Association (POA) earlier that day that the driver involved in the accident was operating the boat in an erratic and dangerous way. The witness said he was believed to be intoxicated while operating the boat and that parents had pulled their children away from the lake to avoid an accident.
The person complained that the POA did nothing to stop the driver.
The POA management did not return calls asking for a comment on the accident.
Falls said that the operator of the boat did not appear to be impaired during his interview.
“When I talked to him he was very coherent,” Falls said. He added that during questioning the driver blamed the accident on mechanical issues.
Linn County Sheriff Kevin Friend said that while his deputies can enforce traffic regulations and laws on shore in the lake developments, they have little jurisdiction over events that take place on the water.