West Fargo family tried to bail out as hit-and-run boater sped towards them on Big Cormorant
DETROIT LAKES, Minn. -- "What is that boat doing? You guys, that boat!"
Taryn Erickson, 37, could hardly believe she was yelling these words to her husband Wednesday, as she watched a boat speeding straight at her family on Big Cormorant Lake south of Lake Park, Minn.
The hit-and-run accident on the water hospitalized Erickson's husband, Terry, 39, and left authorities searching for the boaters responsible for crashing into the West Fargo, N.D., family.
About 10 minutes after taking their 17-foot Bayliner out into the lake to watch fireworks with a neighbor about 10 p.m., Taryn Erickson said she noticed a boat heading directly toward them from behind.
"(Terry) tried waving his arms at 'em, and then yelled, 'Bail,'" she said. "Just like a reflex, we jumped out the driver's side."
The incoming vessel swerved, going up and over the back of the Ericksons' boat and striking her husband.
"The boat was pushed away from us, and I heard my husband yelling for our kids," Taryn Erickson recalled Friday. "We just wanted to know where our kids were."
As Taryn Erickson, her husband and the neighbor who was aboard were trying to get back to their boat, they were begging the people in the other damaged boat -- which had briefly stopped after the collision -- to call 911, jump in and help or at least throw life jackets in the water for their kids .
The neighbor, Greg Pawlik, 55, was able to climb back into the boat and discovered the Erickson's two children still inside, bruised and battered from the impact.
Taryn Erickson grabbed a floating cushion and gave it to her husband, who told her immediately that he thought his hip and leg were broken. A group of witnesses pulled him onto the back of their boat. As others were coming to the Ericksons' aid, the boat that struck them left the scene immediately.
Taryn Erickson said her children suffered bruises and scrapes like they had been in a car crash, and her 4-year-old daughter had a gash at the back of her head stapled. The children were not hospitalized.
Terry Erickson was right, He had broken his leg and pelvis. He also had stitches on his forehead. He was taken to a Minneapolis area hospital, where he had hip and pelvis surgery Friday. His injuries could cause him to be out of work for almost three months, his wife said.
The Becker County Sheriff's Office searched the lake extensively for the other boat, but deputies were unable to locate it.
Witnesses to the accident were unable to positively identify the boat, in part because it was dark.
In a Becker County Sheriff's Department news release, witnesses described the boat as 18 to 20 feet long, white or cream colored with a cabin style helm and a darker stripe along the side of the boat.
Deputy Cody Bouchie of the department's water patrol said the operator of the boat that struck the Bayliner could face criminal charges for fleeing the scene of an accident.
Authorities said the boat should have some damage along the bow or front area of the boat. It wasn't clear if it was made of aluminum or fiberglass, according to the Becker County news release.
The sheriff's office is asking anyone with information about the case to call (218) 847-2661.