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NCSO boat collides with craft on Boca Reservoir

Darin Olde, Sierra Sun

During a windy Memorial Day weekend at Boca Reservoir a Nevada County Sheriffs Office boat collided with another craft just after stopping the boater for improper tags. The collision marks the second police boat collision in the Truckee area in the last 11 years.

“The police boat came on at a 90 degree angle with the boat,” said Marty Pearson, owner of the 21-foot Westcraft damaged in the collision. “He came from the windward side rather than the leeward. He cut the power too early, and when he saw that he wasn’t close enough he gunned it, and hit the boat, and then he hit it again.”

According to NCSO Lt. Dave Baxley, one of the officers on board the 20-foot police boat may have been a boat officer in training.

Although Baxley is unclear as to which officer was driving the boat at the time of the collision, he said he is certain that the NCSO will rectify the damages as soon as the claim is approved by Nevada County’s Risk Manager.

Pearson filed a claim against the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office following the incident, and expects the damages, estimated at $725, to be repaired soon.

“The issue isn’t the damages to the boat,” said Pearson. “The officers need training. If they hit somebody in a smaller boat, in a canoe or a raft, they could kill somebody.”

Baxley said that the state doesn’t require training for boat officers, but the certified Cal-Boating course is something they like officers to do.

In addition, the police boats are equipped with bumpers, cushions that can be hoisted over the bow to prevent boats from bumping when they approach one another.

Retired NCSO officer and town council member Bob Drake said that the 20-foot long police boats are jet boats, and that they maneuver differently than propeller boats.

“When it’s windy [driving the boats] is pretty tough,” he said.

In 10 years as a boat officer in Truckee, Drake had only one incident where he actually collided with another boater. They were both on jet skis, and the damages were minimal.

“I can empathize with the guy,” said Drake.

Retired from boat duty this year, Drake didn’t receive boat training until his second summer as boat officer. The classes he took were mostly background information, and didn’t offer any hands-on training.

“It was the learning that went on between the classes, listening to the guys that had experience, that was most valuable,” he said. Drake added that most of his hands-on learning occurred when he rode along with a boat officer that had experience.

Baxley explained that the NCSO in Truckee is understaffed, and unless he pulls a patroller off the streets, he will have to use boat officers from Nevada City.

“It was really windy that weekend. There were whitecaps on the water,” he explained, “and that’s why it’s called an accident.”


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