Updated on: 4/26/2021
An Oregon salmon fisherman who was forced to jump off of his own boat to avoid being struck by another oncoming boat on the Columbia River last summer has filed a lawsuit against the boat’s owner.
According to The Oregonian, 75-year-old Marlin Lee Larsen is accused of operating his boat without due care in relation to the August 2017 incident, which was caught on camera. The plaintiff and victim, 47-year-old Bryan Maess, was fishing on the river with two friends when GoPro cameras mounted to their boat captured the boat accident on video as it unfolded:
Maess, a law enforcement officer who was off-duty at the time of the incident, suffered injuries to his head, ankle, leg, and arm as a result of the boating accident. Maess’s friends and passengers, one of whom is also a law enforcement officer, also suffered minor injuries.
Driver In Boat Accident Denies Being Distracted
Investigators said in public documents that Maess and his passengers likely would have been seriously injured or killed had they not acted quickly and jumped into the water. In the lawsuit, Maess accuses Larsen of being distracted by his cell phone when the crash occurred, which resulted in personal injury and other harm to the people who were on board.
Officials with the Clatsop County Sheriff’s Office say Larsen’s son-in-law told investigators that he warned his father-in-law to pay attention shortly before the incident, and that Larsen had been using his cell phone off-and-on throughout the morning of the crash. In an interview with The Oregonian, Larsen said he wasn’t using his cellphone while driving the boat and called the allegations “fake news.”
A criminal case related to the incident is still ongoing, and Larsen has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanors of reckless operation of a boat, fourth-degree assault, and reckless endangerment.