Mercer Island teens involved in fatal boating accident

Two Mercer Island teens were injured in a deadly boating accident that killed a Bellevue music teacher on Saturday night.

A 17-year-old Island resident, whom the Reporter is not identifying at this time, was driving a motorboat when he accidently struck a sailboat anchored near Seward Park around 8:40 p.m. According to news reports, witnesses said the driver was speeding over the posted 7 knots in a no-wake zone. The accident and its cause however, is still under investigation.

The driver and his passenger — both Mercer Island High School students — along with a 45-year-old man on the sailboat, were hospitalized after the crash.

The teenage driver was released from the hospital on Sunday with bruises and a number of stitches. When the Reporter spoke with his mother on Sunday evening, she said her son did not remember much from the accident and was still recovering.

The Mercer Island Police Marine Patrol were the first to respond to the accident, but were unable to revive the victim. Heather Dehart, 37, was pronounced dead when brought to shore. Dehart was an orchestra teacher with the Bellevue School District, a district spokeswoman confirmed.

Seattle Police spokesperson Renee Witt said that the investigation of the crash could take months. Both boats have been taken to the Seattle Police Harbor Patrol impound site on Lake Union. If detectives determine that the law was broken, then they may seek charges. Witt also said that she did not know whether or not the teen had a state required boater’s education card. She said that would be part of the police investigation.

This year, anyone between the ages of 12 and 20 are required to obtain a Boating Safety Education Card to operate a motorboat with at least 15 horsepower. The card is issued upon completion of a boating safety education class.

On Monday, Mercer Island High School Principal John Harrison made an announcement about the incident, without revealing the details. By mid-afternoon, however, many high school students already knew who had been involved, discussing the tragic accident among themselves.

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