GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — Two boats collided Thursday during a Fire Department training drill on the Red River, injuring five firefighters and destroying one of the boats.
Fire Chief Pete O’Neill said the collision happened about 10:30 a.m. A fire captain, two drivers and two firefighters suffered minor injuries and various degrees of hypothermia, he said.
The five were taken to Altru hospital and were released by late Thursday afternoon, Battalion Chief Rick Coulter said.
“Everybody was in life jackets and they did manage to get to shore on their own,” he said.
Coulter said the firefighters were taking part in a “familiarization” exercise.
“We were just out in our boats and everybody was taking turns driving. We do it every year,” he said.
The boats involved in the collision were 17 feet and 18 feet long. The 17-footer was considered a total loss, fire officials said. The 18-footer probably could be repaired, Coulter said.
“Injuries nationwide occur in training exercises. It’s an unfortunate part of our business — not something we’re proud of — in fact, it hurts,” O’Neill said. “But it shows how quickly an accident can occur when, in fact, we’re training to help folks.”
The collision is being reviewed by the Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Department and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The fire department is conducting an internal review that likely will take several weeks, O’Neill said.