A speedboat with seven people aboard crashed into the east side of Stearns Wharf in the Santa Barbara harbor late Sunday afternoon, dumping three passengers into the water and splintering a pier piling.
There were no apparent injuries.
The operator of the speedboat was cited for a misdemeanor under the Harbors and Navigation Code, for driving in a reckless and negligent manner that endangers life, limb and property, said Harbor Operations Manager Mick Kronman.
His name was not released as of Monday morning, but Kronman said the man has a slip in the Santa Barbara Harbor and was interviewed by authorities.
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“He was pretty shaken up but he did not exhibit signs of being under the influence of alcohol,” Kronman said.
Witnesses told Noozhawk that the vessel had been doing doughnuts at high speed but got too close to the wharf on its last pass.
The boat struck the pilings near the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center, badly cracking one of them just under the deck and damaging a nearby ladder.
In photos sent to Noozhawk by reader Christopher Foley, the boat appears to tip sharply to the left as it passes the wharf before the impact of the collision sends three people into the water.
One of the trio was helped back into the boat, and the other two swam to the wharf ladder, where they were assisted by bystanders. None of the seven people aboard the boat appeared to be wearing a life preserver.
Witnesses said the boat appeared to be damaged in the collision but it allegedly left the scene before the Harbor Patrol arrived.
The boat operator was contacted at his slip in the Santa Barbara Harbor, Kronman said Monday morning.
Crews were on the wharf Monday to assess the damage to the piling and ladder and to check the integrity of the wharf in the area of the collision, near the Sea Center, Kronman said.
The piling was severely damaged and if it has to be replaced, the city is currently working on its annual piling replacement project, which would be a “fortunate coincidence,” he said.
The boat had a jet engine, not a propeller, and Kronman confirmed there were no injuries reported in the collision.
“These people were very lucky they weren’t seriously hurt,” he said.
The Harbor Patrol is investigating the incident, including whether there were enough floatation devices in the boat for all the passengers.
A Santa Barbara Fire Department crew also responded to the incident.
Noozhawk Managing Editor Giana Magnoli contributed to this story.