VIDEO: Speedboat Event Ignores Request to Stay out of Detroit River


Windsor's Harbour Master says a group of American speedboaters jeopardized lives on the Detroit River Saturday.

Peter Berry raised concerns over plans for close to 50 off-shore powerboats — which Berry says do not belong on a narrow waterway — to run down the river to the Ambassador Bridge.

That's after residents in east-Windsor called Friday to complain about a group of the powerboats breaking the 30-meter motorized vessel ban along the shore. Berry made his way to Riverside to witness the vessels traveling at unsafe speeds in a formation that left little room for slower boats.

The U.S. Coast Guard sent officers to Michigan's Metro Beach to ask participants of Skaterfest to stay in the open waters of Lake St. Clair, but that request fell on deaf ears.

Berry says Windsor police and OPP positioned themselves along the river around 30-meters from shore with their blue lights flashing. He says the group started coming down the river single file before fanning out across the width of the river at more than 100mph — endangering several fishing and recreational vessels.

"Police officers on board said they were frightened themselves to see the number of rooster tails [wakes] coming from these boats as they came at them full speed," he says. "At no time did they see anybody take the opportunity to slow ... down."

He says police caught one of the speedboats near Belle Isle after it overheated and broke down. 

The person helming the boat was ticketed for unsafe operation and Berry plans on adding an infraction for violating the shoreline ban.

"Two of the boats decided, coming right at the police boats, to veer towards the shoreline," says Berry.

With two more unsanctioned events in Lake St. Clair Saturday, Berry says it was hard to mobilize effective enforcement with little notice.

He plans on sitting down with the U.S. Coast Guard to ensure they're prepared next time something like this happens.

"A look at what mitigating factors could be put in place next time, what potential enforcement actions could we follow through with, and make a plan for when this comes again, and most likely, it will come again," he added.

Berry says, had the event organizers come to authorities with their plans, something could have been worked out to ensure their run through the river was safe for everyone involved.

Organizers did not respond to a request for comment.