Man pleads not guilty to reckless or negligent watercraft operation following crash that injured three; trial scheduled
(ABC 6 News) – An Austin man cited for reckless or grossly negligent operation of a watercraft pleaded not guilty in Freeborn County Court Wednesday, Sept. 13.
Ricky Dean Wytaske, 69, was cited after a allegedly driving a boat pulling a tube into a boat lift with a pontoon on it July 4, on Fountain Lake, Albert Lea.
Kallasandra McKee, 21, received serious injuries in the crash and was airlifted to St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester. Five-year-old Larissa Peerson and 23-year-old Alonzo Trevino were each taken to Mayo Clinic in Albert Lea for treatment.
Wytaske’s next court appearance, a jury trial, is scheduled for Feb. 16, 2024.
(ABC 6 News) – Fourth of July celebrations quickly turned into a frightening situation following a tubing accident on Fountain Lake in Albert Lea.
A tube being pulled by a boat got too close to the shore and slammed into a boat lift with a pontoon on Tuesday.
The owner of the pontoon, Larry Harmdierks, was sitting on his front deck with his wife to watch the fireworks when the accident occurred.
“We saw the boat come around pulling the tube and I said to my wife, ‘he’s too close and that tube’s gonna come around,’ and about the time I said that, the boat hit the pontoon,” said Harmdierks.
Kallasandra McKee, 21, received serious head and leg injuries, and was airlifted by the Mayo One helicopter to St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester.
Alonzo Trevino, 23, and Larissa Peerson, 5, were taken by ambulance to the Mayo Health Clinic System in Albert Lea. None of the individuals sustained life-threatening injuries.
The boat’s driver, Ricky Wytaske, was cited for operating a watercraft in a reckless manner.
“Not everybody’s doing what they should be doing out there. And unfortunately, you get people zig-zagging across the lake, and so on and so forth,” said Harmdierks. “Quite a bit of havoc at times. It almost gets to the point where we say just stay off the lake on holidays.”
While it’s lucky incidents like this don’t happen often on Fountain Lake, they’re not uncommon in Minnesota.
According to the DNR, last year there were 15 deadly boating accidents, and another 76 that caused injuries.
Anyone going out to enjoy a fun day on the lake is warned to go slowly, and be respectful of other boaters on the water.