Boating club members feel lucky to be alive after being struck on James River

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Local boaters say they feel lucky to be alive after being run into by a speed boat on the James River near Rocketts Landing Tuesday evening.

“One second you’re just having a nice, peaceful night on the river, and the next second you turn around and there’s a boat coming right at you,” boater Cary Ann Virgin recalled.

Virgin says she was one of the boaters on the river near Rocketts Landing Tuesday night for the RVA Dragon Boat Club. A dragon boat is a long, wooden boat filled with paddlers, a drummer and a steerperson.

Virgin says she was paddling when she heard her coach yelling at someone to slow down.

“By the time we turned around, all we saw was the front of the boat coming at us,” Virgin said.

Virgin says the driver of the speed boat came right at them and hit them, despite having plenty of room to maneuver with no one else on the water.

“He didn’t even try to turn he just came right at us. I mean I really, really thought we were going to die,” said Virgin.

“I really, really thought we were going to die.” — Cary Ann Virgin

Thankfully, no one was hurt. She says the man behind the speed boat just stared at them and waited in the water for over 30 minutes.

Virgin, who lives at Rocketts Landing, says she knew they were in Henrico. They called 911 and the non-emergency line, but after telling police what happened, she said they waited for a half an hour with no response.

“We were frustrated,” she said. “You know, there’s 20 people on shore all in shock. We were really just perplexed why nobody was coming.”

Virgin says they spoke to police again, who told them they needed to call the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) but gave them no number.

8News reached out to DGIF, which told us every police department has their contact information, including Henrico County. We reached out to Henrico Police, who told us they were still looking into the situation.

Meanwhile, Virgin said if anyone would have responded they could have talked to the owner of the speed boat before he took off.

“Who knows exactly why he hit us but it would have been nice to know why that occurred,” said Virgin.

“We also reached out to Sports Backers, who sponsors the team, for their reaction. They say they have no comment while the investigation is under investigation.

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