September 10, 2013

Luck was with boaters after frightening Maine crash

There were three injuries, but none life-threatening in Saturday night's collision on Casco Bay.

By David Hench
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

In this 2011 file photo, Donald Sussman and U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree. Sussman and Pingree were two of six people aboard a water taxi that collided with a 20-foot recreational boat in Portland Harbor on Saturday night, Sept. 7, 2013 as they returned from a wedding.

Provided photo

As the rescue workers on the City of Portland tended to Sally Handy of Boulder, Colo. -- the boat's passenger, who was seriously injured in the crash -- the Cavallaro continued on, searching for the water taxi.

The first boat to find the taxi was actually a Casco Bay Lines ferry, which was passing through the area. The ferry stayed until the Cavallaro and the U.S. Coast Guard arrived.

As the Cavallaro pulled up, Nixon recognized Clegg and called out, "Nicole?"

Clegg said hearing Nixon's familiar voice gave her a great sense of relief.

The patients and the rest of the passengers were brought onto the Cavallaro for the trip back to the Maine State Pier.

Nixon said he did not learn that one of the people on board was Pingree until they were headed back to shore.

The Coast Guard has not identified the operator of the taxi, but Portland Express Water Taxi is owned and operated by Gene Willard, who could not be reached Monday. A person answering the water taxi's telephone number said he was covering for Willard for a few days.

The Coast Guard performed a breathalyzer on the water taxi'scaptain because it is a commercial vessel under Coast Guard jurisdiction. It came back negative, said Lt. Scott McCann.

The operator of the pleasure boat, Christopher Pizey, was not given a breath test. However, when he arrived on shore, a Portland police officer performed a field sobriety test and it showed no signs of impairment, said Assistant Police Chief Vern Malloch.

A Maine Marine Patrol investigator said he responded to the hospital and interviewed Pizey and saw no signs of alcohol use.

Handy, who was in satisfactory condition at Maine Medical Center on Sunday, was not listed as a patient Monday.

Sussman and Potter were treated at Maine Med and released. Sussman is the majority share owner of MaineToday Media, which owns the Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel.

As frightening as the crash was for those on board the vessels, it could have been much worse.

"I've been in a lot of tough situations in my life before, and I'm still reconciling what happened," Connolly said. "You play it over in your mind and what could have happened. I think frankly we were all pretty lucky there weren't more serious injuries."


David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

CORRECTION: This story was updated at 12:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 10 to identify which side of the water taxi was damaged.


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