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Boat Careens Into Crowd Watching Water Ski Show

An 18-foot inboard motorboat careened into the crowd during a water ski show at Sea World of Ohio Saturday, injuring at least 22 people, four of them critically.

The accident happened around 6 p.m., shortly after the Baywatch water ski show began on the shores of Geauga Lake before a capacity crowd of 4,000. The show involves an actor jumping from the boat in a simulated rescue scene as the boat skips across the water before the crowd.

Ken Stanley of Auburn Hills, Mich., a spectator, said the boat lost control and catapulted into the north side of the stands.

Barry Benoit, 19, of Cortland, was sitting about 10 rows back from where the craft hit.

“Everyone thought the boat would just continue on. But then it went right up, maybe three or four rows deep,” Benoit said. “It hit a lot of people and you could hear the thud as it went into the grandstands.”

“All around, everyone just stood up and was looking at this and kind of gawking and wandering if this could be part of the show,” Benoit said.

A man on board jumped out as the boat crashed. He was not injured.

Other actors in the show ran into the stands, lifted the boat and helped rescue people caught under it.

The 22 people who were injured ranged in age from 2 to 78. Five of them got medical attention at the scene.

Sea World spokesman Ted Molter said the other 17 were taken to area hospitals, where at least four were listed in critical condition. The others were treated for bumps and bruises and were expected to be released.

The Sea World parks are operated by the Busch Entertainment Division of Anheuser-Busch Inc. of St. Louis, the nation’s second largest theme park operator.