Hailie Knight, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, was one of two occupants on a tube being pulled on the SRA’s center lake by a personal watercraft. The tube struck a tree, resulting in the victim’s severe injuries. The second occupant was treated for minor cuts and bruises. Alcohol does not appear to be a factor in this incident.
Knight was transported to Morrill County Community Hospital in Bridgeport. She was stabilized before being airlifted to Regional West Medical Center in Scottsbluff, where she underwent surgery.
The victim’s husband, Joshua Knight, 21, was the operator of the personal watercraft, which was the only vessel on the lake at the time of the accident.
The accident was called into Bridgeport Communications at 1:10 p.m. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Nebraska State Patrol and Morrill County Sheriff’s Office are investigating.
This boating accident is the fifth reported to Nebraska Game and Parks this year. Typically, at least 10 accidents are reported by mid-June.
Herb Angell, Nebraska’s boating law administrator, said: “We want boaters to be safe and have fun. The top five contributing factors to boating accidents are; excessive speed, lack of experience by the operator, not paying attention, not maintaining a proper lookout and machinery failure.”
Angell said people new to boating should consider taking a boating safety course. Nebraska law requires all motorboat operators born after Dec. 31, 1985, to take a boating safety course. Available classes are listed at BoatSafeNebraska.org.
He added that boaters also should be vigilant about maintaining their vessel by making sure that items such as life jackets, noise-making devices (horns and whistles), fire extinguishers and other carriage requirements are kept up to date.