Alabama Boat Collision Hurts Three On Rescue Squad

Three members of the South Baldwin Search and Rescue team were injured Saturday night when their boat collided with another vessel on Fish River, authorities said.

Capt. Bob Woodward of the Fish River-Marlow Volunteer Fire Department and a member of the search and rescue team, said the accident happened around 9 p.m. when the crew was heading back to the boat launch near the U.S. 98 bridge following the annual Christmas parade on the river.

The rescue team was about three-quarters of a mile north of the bridge when the their 15-foot jet boat collided with a 20-foot boat that was not involved with the parade, Woodward said.

"The boats collided and we wound up with one person from each boat in the water," said Woodward, who was not present when the accident happened. "One swam to safety and the other one had to be rescued."

All three members on the rescue boat were taken to the University of South Alabama Medical Center. The two individuals on the other vessel were not injured, according to Woodward.

The one female member of the crew who was saved from the water suffered a near drowning and was in "very critical" condition after experiencing hypothermia, Woodward said.

"Anything below 95 (degrees Fahrenheit) is consider hypothermia and I know her body temperature was 85 when she arrived at the hospital, which is extreme hypothermia," he said.

Woodward said the other two individuals had injured ribs and possibly some other broken bones, with one still in critical condition and the other in better shape.

The Alabama Marine Police are handling the investigation but could not be reached Sunday.

"They were just going to put the boat up and go home when they had a very unfortunate accident," Woodward said. "The cause is still under investigation and it may be quite some time before we know what happened. I really don't know."