Channel Cat Back In Service After Accident

The Channel Cat water taxi purred along smoothly Sunday after an accident Saturday that sent two children to the hospital.

Several passengers indicated Sunday that the accident that happened when a Channel Cat boat hit a pier during docking in Bettendorf didn’t change their decision to ride Sunday.

Courtney Mangler, who rode the craft with her husband, Curtis, and their 1-year-old son Owen, said news of the accident “didn’t bother me.” Her son contentedly enjoyed a bottle after what his mother said was his “first boat ride, ever.”

Mangler’s father, Jay Kadner, of Clinton, called his daughter and said, “We’re still going, aren’t we?” They rode with Vicky Pladna, of Clinton. “I knew about the accident, but I went anyway,” she said. “I’d come again.”

“I had a brother who was killed in a car accident 37 years ago, and I still drive,” Kadner said. “My grandfather died in his sleep, and I still go to sleep at night.”

But a Davenport mother who was on the craft with her husband and baby when the accident happened said she won’t ride again.

Maria Dickmann was on the boat with her husband, young daughter, Sadie, and Dickmann’s aunt and uncle who were visiting.

“There was absolutely no verbal communication from the captain,” Dickmann said. Prior to the accident, she said, the boat had bounced off a rubber guard. “We felt that,” Dickmann said. “We knew we were docking.”

A couple of seconds later, she said, “He hit the throttle really hard, and rammed the boat straight into the dock. I heard the engine rev.”

Many passengers were thrown forward, Dickmann said. One little boy, she said, was thrown forward really hard. “There was a big welt on his check. It was swelling up almost the size of a golf ball,” said Dickmann, who had a gash on her lower leg from the jolt.

No one was available Sunday evening for comment from the Celebration Bell, which operates the Channel Cat boats, or the Isle of Capri, where the boat docked.

Dickmann's aunt was thrown from her seat and banged up both of her knees. Dickmann’s husband was holding their daughter up to look out the window, so the baby was not thrown into anything in front of her.

Dickmann said the boat was full. The crew brought ice to passengers who were the most injured, Dickmann said. She said Bettendorf fire and police, medics, representatives from the Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Coast Guard all arrived at the scene.

“The City of Bettendorf certainly did a wonderful job I responding,” she said.

As far as returning to the Channel Cat, “I’m not planning on it,” Dickmann said. “I understand it’s a rare thing and it’s very unlikely to happen again.”

The captain, she said, “definitely did something wrong.”

The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating the accident. Earlier, Coast Guard spokesman Jerad Landheer said up to 12 people had cuts and bruises. Conditions of the two injured children who were taken to Genesis Medical Center-East Rusholme Street, Davenport, were unavailable Sunday night.

The Channel Cat 2 was not damaged, Landheer said. He also said the Coast Guard investigation will include testing the pilot for drugs and alcohol.

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