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'I thought I was going to die' - Woman recalls boat accident in Lake Michigan's 'Playpen'

After accident in Lake Michigan's 'Playpen,' woman must learn to walk again
After accident in Lake Michigan's 'Playpen,' woman must learn to walk again 02:34

CHICAGO (CBS) – First responders gave new details about the boat accident in Chicago's "Playpen" on Saturday that left two people severely injured.

CBS 2's Steven Graves also spoke to one of those victims, who said she's lucky to be alive and described the terrifying moments of the incident. The woman had the most severe injuries as both of her feet were severed by a boat propeller and has to learn how to walk again.

It was supposed to be a fun Saturday on the water for Lana Batochir and her husband.

The two were meeting up with old friends for a reunion of sorts on Lake Michigan in the "Playpen" area, but fun turned to tragedy in seconds.

Batochir, a 34-year-old mother of two, spoke to CBS 2 from her hospital bed. She said she was sucked into the water by another boat as she was on a raft with about five other people.

That boat's propeller severed both of her feet.

Using her arms to pull her head above water, "I thought I was going to die," Batochir said.

But her husband helped her get to safety on another boat.

In a GoFundMe page, Batochir said, "I saw my husband's eyes searching for me in panic….I would never forget his face of pain."

Chicago police marine officers also rescued another woman who had part of her hands severed, she was Batochir's friend.

"I just saw excessive bleeding on the boat," said CPD officer Raul Echevarria, who responded to the scene. "Right away, I just wanted to apply direct pressure on her hand."

Medics took Batochir and her friend to the hospital. Investigators are trying to figure out what went wrong.

"To the best of my knowledge, at this point in time, it was deemed an accident," said Officer Ark Pachnik.

Initial reports indicated the captain of the boat that hit the raft was trying to anchor down. The crane malfunctioned and as they tried to correct the boat, it sped up in reverse instead, colliding with the other boat.

Botachir said she remembers her husband yelling at the captain to stop. She has to get part of her legs amputated and will have to learn to walk with prosthetics.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police is conducting the investigation into the incident and will determine if the captain of the other boat could face charges.

Batochir has retained a lawyer. As of Monday, officials are considering the incident an accident.

The U.S. Coast Guard said Monday it is actively searching for information regarding the incident. Any witnesses can make an anonymous report through the Coast Guard Investigative Service Tips online. The Coast Guard said it's particularly interested in talking with any passengers aboard LA AQUAVIDA or anyone who may have taken video of the incident.

The Coast Guard's Marine Safety Unit Chicago Investigating Office and Criminal Investigative Service are working with the IDNR on the joint investigation.

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