Sunday, August 21, 2005

Authorities may have seized boat in fatality hit and run..

Authorities seize boat suspected in fatality By Russ Oechslin, Journal correspondent OKOBOJI, Iowa -- While no charges were filed by late Saturday, authorities say they have found a boat they believe was involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident Aug. 12 near Village West Resort on West Lake Okoboji. Perry, Iowa, dentist Dr. Michael Brosnahan, 51, was killed when the boat in which he was a passenger was struck from behind by another boat that vaulted over it and left the scene of the 2 a.m. collision. Brosnahan's wife, Jill, 50, was seriously injured and transported to Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls. She was at home Saturday in Perry with her family. Four others onboard were not injured. Brosnahan's brother, Bill, was piloting the boat in which the dentist was riding. Dakota Dunes, S.D., surgeon Dr. William Rizk, who owned the craft, and his wife, Pamela Jo, also were on board as was Bill Brosnahan's wife, Elizabeth Ann. Authorities said last week that the boat had been traveling at 15-20 mph when a boat going much faster struck it. Authorities began an immediate search using thermal imaging equipment but were unable to find the missing boat for a week. Iowa Department of Natural Resources officer Gary Owen said Saturday the discovery of the boat came "as an effort of the whole operation" that involved several local law enforcement agencies, along with the DNR and the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation. Owen also indicated he was uncertain if anyone was in line to collect the $25,000 reward offered by the local Water Safety Council. "But probably not. We had a lot of information coming in. It all helped." Two days earlier a DCI official noted they had been receiving an average of 30 calls a day over the last week. Owen characterizes the seized boat as "larger than 22 feet long" and "white with one black stripe." Earlier, officials said they thought the boat involved was about 22 feet long and had two red stripes. Neither DNR nor DCI officials would comment on where the boat was found. According to the DNR's Kevin Baskins, the boat "is currently in the custody of law enforcement officials and is being examined" by DNR and DCI investigators. Owen, who also noted the boat "is all sealed up," explained that he hoped to have more information early this week. According to Jill Brosnahan's sister, Julie Burns of Gaylord, Minn., the family is "very relieved. We knew this would happen. We just didn't know when." Burns reported that her younger sister, who suffered several broken ribs and a broken scapula along with lacerations, is expected to be at her husband's funeral on Monday, and at the burial on Tuesday. "Jill is doing very well. She is the most incredibly strong person you'd ever hope to know. We've always known that. She's doing just great." Burns praised the efforts of the law enforcement officers who have been involved in the investigation. "We are so indebted to the DNR, the DCI -- all the law enforcement officials -- and how hard they have worked. "Their efforts have given us a great source of comfort." Burns also indicated that officials found the boat "much sooner" than family members were expecting. According to Baskins, 10 people have been killed this year in boating accidents on Iowa's lakes and streams. Five died in 2004. There were no boating or drowning fatalities the previous year. The last fatal crash on West Lake Okoboji happened Aug. 2, 2004, when 6-year-old Kathryn Mills of Johnson, Iowa, was killed in a two-boat collision. No charges were filed in that crash after a grand jury convened to consider action.

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