A Utah couple died in a tragic boating accident while watching the total solar eclipse on Monday in Idaho.
Mike Kingston, 63, was operating a boat at Blacktail Park on the Ririe Reservoir with passengers Neal Jenkins, 68, and his wife Elaine, 65. All three were ejected from the craft while trying to complete a turn in the water around 3 p.m., according to the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office.
They were “struck by the boat as it turned in circles around them,” according to police.
Nearby boaters initially tried to save the victims, but Elaine Jenkins was declared dead when police arrived at the scene. Her husband and Kingston were taken to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, where Neal Jenkins was declared dead later that day. Kingston remains in the hospital where he is being treated for his injuries.
Police believe the couple was in the area for the weekend to see the solar eclipse, Bonneville County Sheriff’s Sgt. Bryan Lovell said. The Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the crash.
Witness Adam Frugoli is haunted by what he saw. He said that at first, he didn’t realize what was going on, thinking that the boat was circling to pick up a fallen jet skier.
“I guess I wasn’t prepared to understand what was happening at the time,” Frugoli told reporters. Once he grasped the magnitude of the situation, Frugoli called the police from his satellite phone.
No one could dive in to help the boaters without risking their lives, too. Other witnesses were trying to figure out how to get the boat to stop, but it eventually ran out of gas. That’s when other boaters were able to reach the couple and Kingston to begin life-saving efforts.
Elaine was pronounced dead at the scene, and her husband was rushed to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, where he later died.
Kingston’s condition is unknown.
Bonneville County Sheriff’s Sgt. Bryan Lovell said the couple, who lived in Centerville, Utah, was in the area to watch the rare solar eclipse on Monday.
“Part of what they’re investigating is to determine if there was any alcohol abuse or anything like that, or if there was a problem with the boat or some other interference in that respect. So, those are the things we just don’t know right now,” Lovell said.
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