ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- The Missouri Highway Patrol is urging boaters and floaters along the Meramec River to remain cautious and vigilant following a dangerous accident that left four boys injured after a boat hit their canoe in Franklin County Sunday.
Sarah Dull said she and her husband were excited for their first family float trip. Her family of five was floating in a raft together near Sullivan, Missouri when authorities say a boat hit them head on.
“We heard just a small little fishing boat but he was going so fast and I thought for sure he was going to turn but he didn’t.”
Dull said she yelled for her family to hang on, but the boat ejected her husband and two of her sons from the boat and into the river. Her oldest son suffered minor injuries to his back. However, her 9-year-old, William was seriously hurt and transported by a medical helicopter to St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
“I honestly I thought he was dead when we got into the boat, he was not responsive, I could see his bone on his upper arm.”
Dull said William suffered a broken rib, laceration to his spleen, bruised lung and had surgery on his arm. He was transported out of the ICU Monday night. Missouri Highway Patrol charged the boat driver, 25-year-old Codey McNamee Williams with boating while intoxicated. Corporal Juston Wheetley said he was traveling at an excessive rate of speed and was not steering the boat at the time of the crash. Wheetley said he could face additional charges.
“We want these floaters to stay close to the edge to allow these motorized boats to safely navigate pass them but we also want these vessels to slow down to no wake speeds.”
Missouri Highway Patrol said they’ve noticed a growing number of boaters and floaters on the Meramec River not only because of weather, but also due to coronavirus staycations. Wheetley said motorized boats are legal on the Meramec River but drivers need to use extreme caution.
“It’s very possible we see people who may have never been on our rivers and lakes and don’t know the etiquette on how to get out and boat or float safely.”
Dull said her son is alert, reading and started physical therapy on Tuesday. She hopes he will be discharged from the hospital later this week. She is grateful to the people who helped her family from the river to safety, quick-thinking paramedics and the team at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. As William continues to recover, she hopes sharing her story saves another family from experiencing what they did.
“I just don’t want anyone else to ever have to deal with what we’ve dealt with.”