Operator faulted in BRP crash report

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A final investigation into a BRP trial-run crash in Illinois that left two dead last summer could not determine whether equipment or machinery failure played a role.

That was according to the final accident report, which Trade Only Today obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Careless and reckless operation, as well as operator inattention, were given as the primary two reasons for the crash, as was stated in the preliminary report, which Trade Only obtained in July. In the final report, investigators said it was “unknown” whether equipment or machinery failure were also factors.

Two people died and three were injured last June after a BRP boat trial resulted in a two-vessel crash on Rend Lake in Benton, Ill., when a crisscrossing maneuver went awry.

A 15-foot, 260-hp Sea-Doo Speedster wakeskate with two people was running alongside a 23-foot, 510-hp Sea-Doo 230 Challenger on June 26 when the Speedster operator “executed a sharp left turn directly in the path” of the Challenger, according to the report.

“One of the boats, for whatever reason … pulled right out in front of the other one, so basically the other boat ran over them,” Jerry Hiller, Region Five captain of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, told Trade Only the day after the crash.

The jetboat crashed into the Speedster and continued to barrel over the top of it, according to the report, breaking off the Speedster’s throttle control.

That impact sent the Speedster operator, 38-year-old Larry Smithhart, who was employed at BRP’s Palm Bay, Fla., facility, into the water. His body was recovered the following day. The Speedster continued at 35 mph until it ran aground, traveling around 40 feet before hitting trees.

The impact with the trees ejected passenger Teresa Camargo, who worked at Milsco Manufacturing Co.’s Mexico location. Milsco is a BRP supplier. Camargo was airlifted to a St. Louis hospital with severe head injuries and was later pronounced dead.

The report said Smithhart had “been drinking,” but that the operator of the other boat had not been.

No charges have been filed. However, partial records were denied following a FOIA request citing that “the 2010 Illinois Freedom of Information Act exempts disclosure of records … created in the course of … law enforcement purposes … [that would] … interfere with pending, or actually and reasonably contemplated law enforcement proceedings … by the IDNR.”

Click here for the original report on the accident.

Click here for the follow-up report.

Click here for the preliminary report’s findings.

— Reagan Haynes

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