Search for missing boaters ends in tragedy

Two boats crashed in the O'Connell Slough area of the river, near Burlington.

UPDATED: May 23 at 5:05 a.m.

Investigators now know more about the Burlington boat crash that killed four people and injured 8 others.

According to the

Burlington Hawkeye

, the two jon boats involved in the crash were shuttling partiers to shore when they collided early Saturday.

The driver of one boat had dropped off passengers on a dock and was returning to an island sandbar when he hit the other boat carrying 11 people.

His boat only had minor damages so he was able to rescue all but four of the passengers from the water before emergency personnel got on the scene.

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to read more in the Burlington Hawkeye.


Original Story: May 20

The search is over for four missing people following a weekend boat collision in Burlington, Iowa.

Authorities have released the names of the four people who died. They are 21-year-old Matthew House, of Fort Madison, Iowa and 22-year-old Jacob Boyd, 21-year-old Blake Eakins and 20-year-old Caitlyn Atchley all from Burlington, Iowa.

According to Lt. Clint Williams with the Des Moines County Sheriff's Office, the bodies of all four victims were located within 100 yards of where the collision occurred.

Williams says search teams found the first victim, a female, at 7:30 a.m. Sunday. The last of the missing boaters was discovered at 12:25 pm. The

Burlington Hawk Eye

reports, none of the victims were wearing life jackets.

"There were two boats that were shuttling people back and forth to a river island in the dark and two boats collided," Williams said.

The investigation will continue as to what caused the crash. Autopsies will be performed on the victims, ages 19 to 22, in the coming days.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources spokesman Kevin Baskins said the timing of the crash, about 1:45 a.m. Saturday, made it difficult for rescuers to find people in the water.

Baskins says the two boats crashed head-on in the O'Connell Slough area of the river, near Burlington. One of the boats was carrying 11 people; the other had a single passenger.

Baskins says all eight people that were pulled from the water were hospitalized. By the end of the day Saturday, at least one of the victims had been released. Baskins says at least one person suffered serious injuries.

Several family members and volunteers continued their search Saturday evening, both on the banks of the Mississippi River and by boat. A candlelight vigil was held at 8 p.m. Saturday along the riverfront. Sunday afternoon, friends and family of the victims remained along the riverfront where some had created a makeshift memorial.

It's not clear how the accident happened as authorities said they have conflicting statements from the boaters, but a conservation officer with the Iowa DNR says lights on both of the boats involved were not in use.

Baskins told

The Hawk Eye

it could take weeks to interview all the victims, collect evidence and reconstruct the crash.

The Des Moines County Sheriff's Department, the Burlington Police Department, the Burlington Fire Department and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources responded to the search and rescue call.

Burlington is in southeast Iowa on the Illinois border, about 200 miles north of St. Louis on the river.