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Investigation continues into boat accident in the 'Playpen' that left two critically injured

Investigation continues into boat accident in the 'Playpen' that left two critically injured
Investigation continues into boat accident in the 'Playpen' that left two critically injured 01:37

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The investigation continues into exactly what caused the skipper of a boat to back into two women in Lake Michigan. The incident critically injured both of them.

A licensed captain shared some insight into what may have gone wrong. 

In the late afternoon Saturday, dozens of boats filled the area known as the Playpen, just north of Navy Pier. 

Then came 911 calls for help. 

A spokesperson with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources said the licensed captain of a boat was attempting to anchor in the Playpen when the boat's windlass malfunctioned. The rental boat began to drift. The captain tried to correct it and reversed and backed over a raft with the women on it.

During a news conference on Monday,  officers with the Chicago Police Department's Marine Unit described what they called a "hectic" scene and said they had to save the two victims with severe injuries.

CPD Officer Ark Pachnik said after he and other officers heard the call of the incident on the radio, they responded and found the two victims on the raft.

One victim was hanging onto another individual who had come by to assist. Two of the officers help take her to Navy Pier to Chicago fire paramedics.

"We immediately knew she needed first aid rendered to her," Pachnik said of the first victim.

Raul Echevarria, another CPD officer, said he had to apply pressure to the victim's bleeding hands, but he couldn't say how severe the injury was.

Officers found the second victim on the stern of a boat and had to throw her over their shoulders to get her into their own boat and deliver her to paramedics. Pachnik said she was conscious and that both of her feet were severed but there was "no to minimal bleeding."

Officers said no other injuries were reported.

Pachnik said witnesses told them when the boat reversed into the raft, they saw the boat "sucking (the raft) underneath."

The CPD officers said investigations into accidents on waterways are handled by the IDNR. Pachnik said to the best of his knowledge, the incident was deemed an accident.

"If you're backing up of course if you run somebody over it's your fault, period," said Jeffrey Harris. "There's no excuse for it, but you should have somebody looking for you if you can't see."

Harris is a licensed captain with Two Brothers Sailing Chicago. He said he does not like going into the Playpen when it's packed because it can be risky. He did not see the accident but said having that second set of eyes to look around is important. 

Investigators have not said if the captain involved in the accident had a first mate. 

"And even if the boat did malfunction, it actually is that captain's responsibility to make sure that the boat is operating properly before he leaves," Harris said.

No citations have been issued to the boat's captain at this point. 

CBS 2 reached out to the DNR several times to ask if any may be handed down and was still waiting for a response Sunday night. 

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