Photo Courtesy of Dmitry Bohdan

A boat crash on Saturday, August 18, sent one man to the hospital and resulted in damage to two boats.Police said they suspect alcohol played a role in the incident.

At 11:41 PM, Hopatcong Police were called to respond to a boat crash near the River Styx Bridge. Upon arrival police found two boats, about 1,500 feet into the cove, near Pavinci’s Restaurant. The Marine Division of the State Police were called but officers were not on patrol and the dispatcher estimated the response time would be over an hour. Without  a marine response team, two Hopatcong Borough officers commandeered a civilian vessel from Johnny’s Marina and visited the crash site. Medical bags in hand, they found one boat with a large hole in the side and the other with scrapes.

The lesser damaged boat was driven by Lawrence Lohr. Police towed both boats to Johnny’s Marina where the drivers were questioned about the accident. Lohr’s statement to police was that he was unable to see the other boat in time because its running lights were not on. Just before the boats were about to collide, Lohr told police, he swerved, sideswiping the other boat.

The other driver told police Lohr was speeding in a “no wake” zone and before he had a chance to get out of the way, Lohr hit him. Police learned Lohr had allegedly been drinking prior to the incident and issued a standard field sobriety test, which he failed. Hopatcong Police then took Lohr into custody where he refusedto submit to a Breathalyzer test. Police then escorted the accused to the hospital where he was treated for minor head wounds, and blood samples were drawn to assess blood alcohol content, according to the report found on the Hopatcong Borough Police Department Facebook page.

This is the second alcohol-related boating accident reported by Lake Hopatcong News & Reviews this summer. Bob Kays, resident of Raccoon Island, voiced his concerns about the issue stating that this accident “proves the need for more marine police on the lake.”  Kays recalled that his boat was almost hit by a driver who was not paying attention.

His concerns were echoed by resident and lake regular Patrick Gonabe.

“Perhaps having more patrolmen on the lake will help crack down on those unable to drive. Whether you’re in a boat, driving a car, or even riding your bike, you must know your limit and when to stop,” said Gonabe.

The Lake Hopatcong Foundation, has taken on the issue of increased police enforcement on the lake, with a group of volunteers working with state and local police to possibly increase patrols, particularly overnight.
“Improved police enforcement is definitely one of the concerns mentioned to us most frequently by the public,” said Lake Hopatcong Foundation president Jessica Murphy. “As such, we have made it a top priority, and we have a group of volunteers who have already put in many hours to come up with a plan to try to make our lake safer. The law enforcement officials have been incredibly helpful, too, so it’s an initiative with some good momentum. Let’s hope accidents like this one become increasingly rare.”

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