GIBRALTAR ISLAND, Ohio — Investigators have determined that “improper lookout” was the reason a Lucas County patrol vessel collided with a navigational buoy on Lake Erie, according a report released by the Ohio Department of Natural Resource’s Division of Watercraft.
The crash happened north of Gibraltar Island at about 11:30 p.m. June 28. The boat was on patrol along the U.S.-Canada border when its operator “took his eyes off the travel route of the vessel and lost sight of the flashing red buoy.” While trying to “regain position,” the operator then struck the buoy, according to the report.
No one was injured. After examining the boat, the vessel and its occupants returned to port.
Photographs of the crash’s aftermath show damage to the ship’s starboard side-bow area. The boat’s operator, Deputy Pat Holzemer, 43, was later issued a “failure to control” citation.
The buoy did not appear on the patrol vessel’s navigation unit, the report said. Investigators recommended that tracking chips be placed in the buoys to reduce the risk of future incidents. They encouraged more prompt reporting of incidents to the U.S. Coast Guard as well.
The Lucas County Sheriff’s Office bought the Boston Whaler in fiscal year 2010, according to information provided to the county commissioners’ office by Kevin Helminski, the finance director for the sheriff’s office. The boat cost slightly more than $494,000 and was paid for with a federal grant given to the state of Ohio for port security purposes.
The boat is used for the Northern Border Initiative. The mission of the program includes catching traffickers and smugglers, as well as addressing more routine security concerns, according to a 2009 profile of the program in Police magazine.
The Boston Whaler is being repaired at MarineMax in Port Clinton, said Capt. Don Atkinson of the sheriff’s office. According to the report, the estimated cost of the damage is $24,228.