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DNR investigating fatal boating accident in Hillsdale County

Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers are investigating a fatal boating incident involving an 11-year-old girl who was struck by a boat.

The incident occurred around 3 p.m. Wednesday, on Lake Michindoh, offshore of the Michindoh Conference Center, which is a Christian camp and conference center, located along Bacon Road on the east side of the lake.

Names of those involved in the incident are not being released pending conclusion of the ongoing investigation.

A 25-year-old lifeguard from the conference center was operating a 1989 Supra Sunsport that was pulling 12 children on a banana boat, which is a non-motorized inflatable tube people ride on pulled by a motorized boat. Both the boat and tube belonged to the Michindoh Conference Center.

A 29-year-old woman was also on the boat, watching the children as a “spotter.” All children were wearing life jackets and helmets.

Three children fell from the banana boat into the water. When the operator returned to pick-up the children, the vessel struck a fourth child, an 11-year-old girl, not previously seen in the water. The man operating the boat immediately jumped into the water to help the child.

A woman from the conference center called 911 requesting an ambulance; a second person called 911 providing additional details.

The child was immediately transported to the dock at the conference center and was met by emergency responders, who provided care for the girl’s life-threatening injuries. EMS personnel rushed the girl by ambulance to Hillsdale County Hospital. There, she succumbed to her injuries.

Alcohol and drugs are not believed to be a factor. Weather conditions were favorable for boating; the boat was the only operating vessel on the lake when the incident occurred.

The boat operator has a Michigan boater safety certificate and is cooperating with the investigation.

Assisting agencies include the Hillsdale County Sheriff’s Office, Michigan State Police, North Adam Fire Department and Reading Emergency Unit.

For more information on boating and boating safety visit

Contact: Lt. Andrew Turner, 517-897-0763