It looked like a terrifying moment for Bryan Maess, a Hermiston, Oregon police officer who was salmon fishing with two friends on the Columbia River last year when disaster struck. Without warning, a motorboat came speeding toward their vessel, and despite their frantic efforts to get the attention of the driver of the boat, the threesome were forced to jump overboard into freezing waters to order to avoid the crash that occurred moments later.
The terrifying collision was caught on video by a GoPro camera mounted onboard, The New York Daily News reports.
Maess filed a $372,500 lawsuit earlier this month against Marlin Lee Larson, Oregon Live reports, the 75-year-old driver of the other boat who Maess claims was distracted by his cellphone while driving. Larsen says that he couldn't see where he was driving during the August 2017 incident because he was sitting down in such a way that the boat's dash blocked his view. Larsen's son-in-law, who was riding in the boat with him at the time of the accident, says he warned his father-in-law to pay more attention. He also admitted to observing the older man using his cellphone on and off the day of the crash.
Maess says he's struggled with headaches and vision problems ever since the accident, as well as knee, ankle, and arm injuries, while his companions that day — Christopher McMahon and Roni Durham — were left dealing with cuts and hypothermia. McMahon and Durham have yet to file a suit against Larsen, but their attorneys say they plan to. Durham's attorney Josh Lamborn alleges that the incident was so traumatizing for his client that, despite fishing being a big part of her life, she's been unable to get back onto the water since it happened.
In a phone call with The Oregonian/Oregon Live, Larsen denied using his phone on the boat the day of the accident. He called such allegations "fake news," further claiming that Maess' lawsuit is unnecessary because the people in the other boat weren't hurt badly.
Larsen has pleaded not guilty to reckless operation of a boat, fourth-degree assault, and recklessly endangering the lives of others.