TACOMA, Wash. (AP) - The Tacoma Narrows Marina has announced it is closing its public boat ramp following yet another death there.
Seven people have reportedly been killed during the past 17 years after their vehicles plunged into the water at the boat launch - most recently, 88-year-old Richard Gustafson, who died after driving into the water Tuesday night, the News Tribune newspaper reports (https://is.gd/CP5BNb).
“We are deeply saddened and regret the accidents and loss of life that have occurred on the boat ramp, but we have never felt that it was unsafe or presented an unreasonable hazard to the public,” said Scott Wagner, co-owner of Narrows Marina LLC, in the statement. “However, in light of recent events and out of an abundance of caution, we are closing the boat ramp to public access indefinitely.”
Use of the boat launch will remain available to tenants and staff by appointment only. New signs and a permanent gate will be installed.
Before Tuesday’s accident, Michaela Baker was the most recent fatality at the ramp. Security camera footage showed the 21-year-old Tacoma woman driving down the boat ramp and plowing into the water just before 1 a.m. May 9, 2011.
Her car was found six hours later, submerged in about 10 feet of water with her body inside.
She had been drinking and chose to drive herself home after losing track of her ride just before the accident.
For four years, her mother, Maria Baker, has fought for safety improvements at the marina, and she was nearly speechless when she learned it was closing to the public.
“Finally,” she said. “It breaks my heart that seven people had to die.”
Information from: The News Tribune, https://www.thenewstribune.com
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