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Trio of incidents illustrate need for water safety

Woman injured in most-serious weekend incident on Illinois River

SENECA — A Lemont man was arrested on drunk driving charges after a boat accident on the Illinois River Sunday sent a woman to the hospital, according to Seneca police.

Illinois Conservation Police charged Joseph S. Martello, 38, with operating a vehicle under the influence.
Illinois Conservation Police are in charge of patrolling public waters.

Martello was allegedly drunk when he was thrown off his jet boat, which continued toward the launch area on shore at about 50 miles per hour and crashed into a boat that was being loaded, according to Seneca Fire Chief Jerry Sears.

The jet boat hit a woman who was sitting in the boat on shore, sending her to the hospital with unknown injuries.

Martello swam to shore and said that he lost control after the throttle got stuck.

It was the most serious of three incidents on the Illinois River over the weekend, two of which involved boats.

In Wilmington, a canoe filled with water and two people were helped to shore in what a representative from the Wilmington Fire Department described as a minor incident. No injuries were reported.

In Morris Saturday, a vehicle with a trailer rolled into the river from the boat launch.

The Hummer, which was unoccupied, reportedly began to roll down the ramp as the owner tried to align his boat with the trailer, becoming mostly submerged in the water.

Morris Fire Department and Coal City Water and Rescue, along with Morris Transmission, pulled the truck and trailer from the water.

There were no injuries reported.

According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Office of Law Enforcement, there were 101 boating-related accidents in Illinois last year, with 17 deaths and 77 injuries.

Alcohol was a contributing factor in 13 of the accidents and five of the fatalities, the IDNR said.

Other major causes of boating accidents are inattention, recklessness and inexperience.

The IDNR offers free boating safety courses. More information can be found online at

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