Bryan Maess, a fisherman, had to jump ship into the bone-chilling water to dodge a speeding motorboat. He has filed a $372,500 lawsuit, alleging the other driver was distracted by his cellphone before the dramatic crash caught on video.
The lawsuit, filed against Marlin Lee Larsen, 75, over the Aug. 12 crash, was near the mouth of the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean.
Because there was a GoPro camera mounted to Maess’ 20-foot fishing boat, the chaos was captured in the seconds before Larsen’s 31-foot motorboat crashes into the smaller, stationary vessel. A passenger on Maess’ boat frantically waved his arms and repeatedly screamed “Hey!” in a desperate attempt to get the driver’s attention.
“Oh my God,” another passenger screams just before the trio leaps into the chilly water.
The video, later posted on Facebook, shows the harrowing moment the speeding motorboat plows into Maess’ fishing vessel.
When the deputies in Clatsop County and the US Coast Guard responded to the crash, they found significant damage to the fishing boat. Maess and his two passengers, Christopher McMahon and Roni Durham, jumped from the fishing boat seconds before the crash and were later treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
According to the deputies, drugs and alcohol did not appear to be a factor in the crash. Larsen was cited for reckless operation, three counts of reckless endangerment and three counts of fourth-degree assault.
Larsen told investigators he could not see where he was driving because he was sitting down. Larsen, who uses a motorized scooter on land, admitted that he should have been standing at the time.
Larsen’s son-in-law was also on the boat at the time and told investigators that he occasionally saw Larsen using his cellphone while driving the boat. State law bans cellphone use while driving, but there are no specific laws governing cell phone use while boating.
Larsen has denied using his cellphone while driving the motorboat, claiming that allegations to the contrary were “fake news,” according to the Oregonian. He has pleaded not guilty at his criminal case unfolds.
Investigators said Maess and his passengers dodged serious injury or death by leaping into the water. Five months after the crash, Maess, who is a police officer, continues to suffer vision problems, headaches and injuries to his ankle, leg, and arm, according to the suit.
McMahon and Durham have yet to file lawsuits against Larsen, but they’ve hired attorneys to do so. Attorney Josh Lamborn said Durham suffered psychological trauma during the crash and hasn’t been able to return to the water since August.
If you know someone who might like this, please click “Share!”