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Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

Celina man dies in Grand Lake boating accident

Victim's boat strikes fishing boat with 2 aboard

By Shelley Grieshop

Pictured is the fishermen's boat struck by another boat on Grand Lake late Satur. . .

Authorities continue to investigate a boating accident late Saturday night on Grand Lake that killed a 33-year-old Celina man and caused minor injuries to two others.
Shane Frey was pronounced dead at 6 a.m. Sunday at St. Rita's Medical Center, Lima, following the accident at 11:45 p.m. Saturday. After his boat crashed into another boat, his body was ejected and found about 30 minutes later floating face down in the water.
Officials said they are awaiting a report from the Allen County Coroner to determine whether Frey was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the crash. Speed also is suspected.
The accident took place about 200 yards off the shore of Northwood near a lighthouse on the north side of the lake.
Frey, who was alone, reportedly was driving an 18-foot Triton pleasure boat that slammed into a stationary boat occupied by two local fisherman. The late night anglers suffered minor injuries but refused treatment at the scene. Later they drove themselves to Joint Township District Memorial Hospital, St. Marys, officials said.
Grand Lake St. Marys State Park Manager Craig Morton identified one of the fishermen as Jeff Tobin from the St. Marys area. He reportedly is employed at The Outdoorsman and one of the marinas in St. Marys. The other man's name was not available at press time.
Both men miraculously remained on board the heavily-damaged, 22-foot Ebbtide boat following impact, Morton said. The boat never sunk but sustained major damage, he added.
"They were very lucky. The other boat came probably within inches of striking them," he said, describing how Frey's boat struck the fishing boat dead center.
Morton said Frey likely was operating his watercraft at a high rate of speed when it struck the fishing boat and was jolted across the top.
"You can see the line the skag made across the top (of the fishing boat) as it crushed the fiberglass hull," he added.
Initial reports from the Watercraft Division of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources suggest that Frey likely was driving much faster than the 10 mph speed limit for boaters after dark. Further tests are being conducted to estimate the speed, according to Supervisor Brett Trump of the Watercraft Division.
State officials continue to investigate the details of the midnight crash, which occurred during the Memorial Day weekend. Frey's boat is being analyzed today by forensic specialists, they said. It was still operating and going around in circles in the water when officials first arrived, Morton said.
Both boats had working navigational lights when they collided, he added.
Preliminary reports show the fishermen were wearing life jackets but it's not clear whether Frey was wearing one, Morton said.
The last boating fatality on the lake occurred in April 2005. The bodies of Jonas Kahlig, 15, of Coldwater, and Greg Parker, 15, of Celina, were discovered by rescuers several days after the pair attempted to cross the lake in a small boat.
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