Thunder on the Narrows organizers say safety is a priority

KENT ISLAND, Md. - Going to the Thunder on the Narrows on Kent Island is a tradition for many, and safety has always been a big consideration for this event.  

The Department of Natural Resources Police, the Coast Guard and safety crews from the event were on hand when Sunday’s fatal crash happened, killing 7-year-old Julianne Rosela.

The Coast Guard, who is handling the investigation, has not given its final report. But those at the race say the boat that veered off course into a crowd of spectators lost its steering coming down the straight away heading into the turn.

The name of the boat is Overtime and it came here from Wisconsin to compete in these races.

The class of boat is the largest class of Hydroplanes, with engines of 700 to 850 horse power and speeds up to 140 miles an hour.

Wheeler Backer is the president of the Kent Narrows Race Association, and David Shaw is the Chief race official for the American Power Boat Association that runs this event. 

There were two fully staffed safety boats on the course, and they say safety is of the utmost importance for a race like this.

“The rescue boats were there immediately , there was divers in the water immediately. I saw divers in the water immediately,” spectator James Sloena said. “I saw one person pulled out quickly and rushed up here. We saw oxygen masked put on them and they were very quickly pulled out  the area.”

The Kent Narrows Racing Association has held these races for the last 25 years here at the Kent Island Yacht Club. They say nothing like this has happened in the past.

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