The coroner has identified one of two victims, who were married, that died when a boat traveling “very fast” on the Fox River ran aground and struck a house near McHenry.
An autopsy showed that Timothy Mertins, 62, of McHenry, died as a result of blunt force injuries in a boat crash, according to Lake County Coroner Jennifer Banek.
The McHenry Township Fire Protection District, McHenry County Sheriff’s Office and Illinois Conservation Police responded around 5:40 p.m. Saturday to the 600 block of Country Club Drive in unincorporated McHenry.
Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director of Communications Jayette Bolinski said witnesses reported an open motorboat was traveling “very fast” up and down the Fox River.
The boat was south of the Snuggery River Roadhouse in McHenry and was weaving and cutting back and forth across the water, Bolinski said.
The boat hit the shoreline and left the river at a high rate of speed.
Bolinski said it traveled approximately 73 feet from the shoreline before coming to rest on land.
The hull of the boat was separated into two pieces following the impact, Bolinski added.
The boat also struck a house after it ran aground. The home was not seriously damaged.
Nearby resident Conner Lively told Lake and McHenry County Scanner he heard an unusually loud bang and ran out to check it out.
Lively, along with his father and other bystanders on a pontoon boat, rushed to the scene to help the victims.
The bystanders found a man, later identified as Mertins, and a woman trapped in the wreckage.
The bystanders worked together to push the wreckage off the male victim but the female victim was “entirely under the boat,” Lively said.
Bolinski said the female victim, a 61-year-old McHenry woman, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Mertins was rushed by ambulance to McHenry High School East Campus where a LifeNet medical helicopter landed.
The helicopter flew the man to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville where he died from his injuries around 8:40 p.m. Saturday, Bolinski said, adding that the victims were husband and wife.
Banek said Mertins died in the operating room in the hospital.
A witness, who did not wish to be named, told Lake and McHenry County Scanner she was eating with her family nearby on the patio of the Snuggery River Roadhouse.
The woman said she saw the boat traveling north on the Fox River while “going fast.”
The boat went towards the rocks along River Road near the Snuggery and did a “huge circle around, back toward the rocks” and made a right-hand turn still going “really fast,” the witness said.
The boat did not slow down before it went airborne and crashed, the woman said.
The McHenry County Coroner’s Office has not yet released the identity of the female victim.
The Illinois Conservation Police are still investigating what led to the crash.