POLSON - Lake County officials said Wednesday that even after interviewing the boat captain they are still unsure how a charter fishing boat carrying three people capsized last week on Flathead Lake, killing at least one.
"It's still a mystery," said Lake County Undersheriff Mike Sargeant after a sheriff's investigator interviewed the boat captain, fishing guide Dusty Bagley of Bagley Guide Service in Bigfork. Bagley was interviewed in the presence of an attorney hired by the boat's insurance company, Sargeant said.
Bagley survived the incident by clinging to the capsized boat for some 12 hours. But he has not spoken publicly about his experience.
The body of one of his clients, Susan Piper, 29, of Bethel, Conn., was found floating near the boat when searchers found the craft "bobbing like a top" with its bow up and its stern submerged about 7:30 a.m. April 10. The body of Piper's spouse, Kent Leroy Piper, 38, has not been recovered. The couple apparently hired Bagley to take them fishing the day before.
The water was rough and winds were gusty on the day of the accident, but Sargeant said weather conditions are not believed to have caused the boat to take on water and capsize.
And there is no evidence the boat ran into a log, a rock, another boat or any other obstructions in the 300-foot-deep open water off of Yellow Bay. In fact, a sheriff's investigator reported that the 24-foot charter boat appears to be seaworthy and undamaged.
Sargeant said the incident appears to be accidental and he does not foresee criminal charges being filed.
But he would not release details of the Bagley interview, speculate as to the cause of the capsizing or discuss Bagley's version of events subsequent to the boat taking on water.
He said the boat's insurer will come to Polson next week to take it out on the lake and look into possible causes of the wreck. He said the sheriff's investigation will continue.
Reporter John Stromnes can be reached at 1-800-366-7186 or email@example.com.