The passengers of a boat involved in a collision with a whale in June that left three injured have spoken up about the unlikely accident.
“Everybody said it was a freak accident, everyone says this never happens,” said Kendall Carson, who was on the boat with her husband, a friend, and their friend’s two children during the June 29th collision. “A lot of people didn’t believe us at first.”
Carson, along with her friend, Lindsey Hazlehurst, and one of Hazlehurst’s children, were injured when their boat struck a whale that appeared suddenly ahead of them. Carson, who recently moved to Juneau from North Carolina, injured her head. One of the children was struck across the nose, requiring stitches, and Hazlehurst suffered internal bruising and was medevac’d to a Seattle hospital. All three have recovered without issue, Carson said. Hazlehurst and her children have returned to North Carolina where they live.
“She’s doing much better. She was the only there for two days,” said Carson of Hazlehurst. “He (Hazlehurst’s son) thinks it’s the greatest thing that he has a new scar from Alaska.”
The collision occurred as they were heading out of Auke Bay, near Coghlan Island. Carson said they were going to check out some possible fishing grounds or beaches. As they were heading out to sea, a whale became apparent very close ahead.
“As soon as we saw the whale my husband killed the engine,” Carson said. “When we hit the whale, I remember the boat going airborne. I remember seeing everyone go airborne.”
Carson struck her head and was out of sorts for a short period of time, but her husband immediately looked for discoloration in the water and saw none, Carson said. They were told that the whale had likely been in the process of diving, Carson said.
Mandy Keogh, NOAA marine mammal stranding coordinator, said there had been no sign of a dead or injured whale in the following weeks.
“We’re hoping that no reports means good news,” Keogh said.
An alert went out to mariners to keep an eye out for a whale exhibiting injuries, but there have been no reports, Keogh said. NOAA is keeping an eye out for local whales that usually inhabit the area.
The boat sustained minor damage, Carson said. They’re assessing the seaworthiness of the vessel before returning to sea.
“We’ve learned a lot of extra safety,” Carson said. “We were prepared for a boat breakdown. We were prepared for a bear attack on the beach. We were not prepared for a whale collision.”
• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or email@example.com.