NEWBURYPORT — Recently discovered court records of July’s motorboat crash in the mouth of the Merrimack River reveal harrowing details of how a New Hampshire man and his girlfriend were forced to jump into the river to avoid being crushed by a charter fishing boat.
The new details come as the captain of the charter boat, Gary Morin of Haverhill, reached a plea agreement with prosecutors Friday at Newburyport District Court.
Morin, 60, a retired firefighter from Haverhill, was charged with two counts of unsafe operation of a motor boat. On the first count, Morin’s case was continued without finding for a year and he was ordered to pay a $50 fine. The other charge was dismissed.
On Saturday, July 12, around 9 a.m., Morin of Rings Island Charter, the captain of the 25-foot-long No Doubt, slammed into a 16-foot Bayliner. The Manchester, N.H., man and his girlfriend jumped from their boat and had to be rescued by the Coast Guard. They were taken to Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport, where they spent the night, and were released the following day.
According to a witness statement, the two victims frantically waved as Morin’s boat approached their anchored motorboat at a high rate of speed. The duo tried in vain to yell at Morin as the boat drew closer and closer.
“As the boat was about to hit them they jumped into the water,” the witness wrote in a sworn statement. “The boat rode straight up onto the boat. It hit directly in the back and rode up — slammed down onto the anchored boat and slid off to the left.”
The witness, who was in another boat with her boyfriend, wrote that her boyfriend helped at least one of the victims out of the water and into the damaged boat.
“It was the scariest thing I have ever witnessed. Luckily they jumped out when they did or they would have been crushed,” the witness wrote.
According to Newburyport harbormaster Paul Hogg, the No Doubt stopped and picked up the female victim as the Coast Guard, Hogg and Salisbury harbormaster Ray Pike raced to the scene. Hogg said the smaller boat sustained significant damage and took on a great amount of water as Tow Boat US hauled it back to Cashman Park in Newburyport.
“It appears he didn’t see them and just ran them over,” Hogg said.
Additional court documents show that civil litigation between Morin and his victims has been concluded, negating the need for restitution in the criminal complaints.
According to Morin’s website and Facebook page, his business is based at Newburyport Boat Basin. The Haverhill resident has been fishing the mouth of the Merrimack and the Gulf of Maine for 25 years. He is a licensed captain by the United States Coast Guard, and a member in good standing of the Northeast Charterboat Captains Association and The National Association of Charterboat Operators.
Court documents show that Morin was traveling more than 12 knots, which, considering the number of boats around the mouth of the Merrimack that morning, was too fast. It also shows that there were six passengers in the No Doubt at the time of the collision.
While Hogg said the speed limit for the mouth of the Merrimack is 45 mph, boats speeding toward the Atlantic Ocean are cautioned to be wary of other boats. Anchored boats, Hogg added, have the right of way.