12-year-old on jet ski injures four
Davey family's Sunday ends with capsized skiff
The accident occurred at about 2:20 pm in the vicinity of the Eastville Beach jetty - in deep water - near the Vineyard Haven/Oak Bluffs town line. Beachgoers retrieved the family members thrown into the water by the impact.
Personnel water craft, commonly referred to as jet skis, are capable of traveling up to 60 miles per hour. The jet ski was going fast enough to ride up the side of the skiff and hit the two adult passengers who were aboard, striking Anne Davey in the back, knocking her unconscious and capsizing the boat.
Both Mrs. Davey, an Oak Bluffs kindergarten teacher, and her husband, Allan, who was hit in the arm by the jet ski, were sent to the hospital. No broken bones or other serious injuries were sustained, although Mrs. Davey was kept overnight for further x-rays. Their two children, ages 7 and 9, also went to the hospital.
EMS personnel and helpers transported Mrs. Allan Davey of Vineyard Haven to a waiting amubulance after the jet ski crash. Photo by Martin Hanley
Mr. Davey and beachgoer Jonah Talbot, 24, of Tisbury swam Mrs. Davey to the jetty, keeping her neck flat and supporting her head.
The 12-year-old operator of the jet ski, from Newton, along with a passenger, his
6-year-old brother, did not fall from the ski. Mr. Davey sent them to get help.
The crash occurred as the two boys were returning to their chartered yacht, Solstice 1 out of Newport, R.I., moored in Vineyard Haven Harbor, Oak Bluffs Police Lieutenant Tim Williamson told The Times in a Monday telephone conversation. The Davey family was leaving the harbor after stopping for a swim at Eastville Beach, Mr. Davey said.
The Daveys' small outboard skiff cleared the jetty. The young boy told police he initially thought he had enough space to drive between the skiff and the jetty.
"At the last minute, he didn't think he had enough room, so he cut the wheel the other way," said Lt. Williamson, "and he ended hitting the boat broadside. Basically he went up over the boat and continued going."
A nearby Oak Bluffs cruiser arrived first and called for a police boat, according to Mr. Williamson. The Coast Guard sent a 41-foot boat stationed in Woods Hole and two helicopters that were nearby on routine flights.
After conferring with the assistant district attorney and Environmental Police Sgt. Patrick Grady, Oak Bluffs police on Tuesday issued a citation to the father, Bradford Smith of Newton, for allowing operation of a Jet Ski by a person under the age of 16, a civil offense. Police also issued a citation warning to the 12-year-old for operating a jet ski under the age of 16.
Called at his home in Newton on Monday Mr. Smith expressed irritation that a reporter wanted to ask about an incident involving his son and declined to comment.
Jet Ski "ended up on top of us"
Mr. Davey described the events in a Monday telephone conversation with The Times. He said he and his family were keeping the boat close to the jetty because of its size when he saw the jet ski approaching quickly.
The ski "came flying up behind us in the space between us and the jetty. And at first I thought they were just screwing around. I thought basically they were trying to come close to us to splash us," Mr. Davey said. "But it only took a couple seconds to see that it was totally out of control." It was "as if nobody was on it steering it"-as if it "was going by itself," Mr. Davey said. "My gut feeling is that the kid was hanging on for dear life.
"My 6 year-old was sitting in front of me, to the right. It [the Jet Ski] was headed right for him, and I instinctively put my arm out to shield him, and I think I accidentally knocked him forward and that's how he hit his head. But it was either that or he was going to get it from the jet ski full clip," Mr. Davey said. Mr. Davey said his 6 year-old received a bump on his head, and their 9 year-old son was sent to the hospital as a precaution.
Mr. Davey explained that the jet ski "hit us right in the midsection and came across us sideways." He said the personal watercraft "did a number on my arm and it hit my wife square in the back. She was sitting in a little beach chair," Mr. Davey said.
"I thought she was dead. She was face down in the water, floating like a body," Mr. Davey said. "Once the jet ski slid off the other side of us, the boat had already flipped on its side, and it was sinking. The kids were absolutely hysterical." The children were wearing life preservers.
"I lifted her [Mrs. Davey's] face up out of the water, and she gave a big gasp of air. Her face was chalk white. She was just mumbling at first, she couldn't even talk," but soon she started yelling in pain, Mr. Davey said.
"I was trying to keep her head out of the water and trying help my boys at the same time," he said.
A quick response
Mr. Talbot was the first person to swim out to assist the Davey family. He and his friend Harry Grow, 34, of Tisbury, had come to Eastville Beach to swim and snorkel.
Mr. Grow told The Times in a Monday telephone conversation that they had just arrived at the beach, and he had jumped in the water. When he resurfaced, he saw "Jonah running down the beach, so I figured something was wrong. I jumped out of the water and followed him to the jetty," Mr. Grow said.
Mr. Talbot, in a Tuesday telephone conversation with The Times, said he heard the accident. "I saw a jet ski go by, really close to the end of the jetty - it looked like he almost hit the jetty - and then I heard a loud 'thunk' that didn't sound like he hit a rock. I wasn't quite sure what he hit. I got up and headed pretty quickly for the jetty," Mr. Talbot explained.
"I saw it was a small dinghy upside down in the water with a couple kids, this guy and his wife. They're all yelling and screaming and two kids who were on the Jet Ski were apologizing," Mr. Talbot said. "I just took off my sunglasses and dove in the water."
After making sure everyone was accounted for, Mr. Talbot brought one boy to where Mr. Grow could pull him out of the water. Another beachgoer, identified by Oak Bluffs police as Sean Wilcoxson, dove in after Mr. Talbot and retrieved the other Davey child.
Mr. Talbot then swam back out to the capsized boat, where he helped Mr. Davey keep Mrs. Davey afloat.
Mr. Davey explained that Jonah "helped me hold Anne, helped me steady her and bring her closer to shore. But I was scared to death to pick her out of the water because I knew her back and her neck were bad. I thought she had a broken neck. At one point she started shaking like crazy and stuff, and I thought she was going to into shock. He stayed right there in the water holding her with me until the guys came out with the backboards."
Mr. Talbot played down his role, saying he was not the only one who helped and that he responded as he hoped others would were he in trouble.
Mr. Davey praised the response of beachgoers, EMTs, and Oak Bluffs police. "We couldn't have been in better hands," he said.
Jet Skis and the law
Massachusetts state law forbids anyone 16 or younger from operating a personal watercraft. People under 18 must take a training course to legally operate a vehicle.
Sgt. Patrick Grady of the Massachusetts Environmental Police - the agency that enforces these laws - told The Times in a Monday telephone conversation that Jet Skis operate differently from other vehicles. They can travel 60 miles per hour, he said, but do not have a brake. Mr. Grady said they can be a lot of fun, but "a lot of people don't realize the potential danger with these Jet Skis."