A Canadian tourist lost at least one foot in a boating accident Saturday evening on Whitefish Lake.
While wake surfing with a group of friends, Travis Baillie, 34, of Calgary, got both feet caught in the boat’s propeller when the driver started the boat, unaware Baillie had gotten into the water, according to Whitefish Police Chief Bill Dial.
Dial said one of Baillie’s feet was completely severed while the other remained barely attached.
The group of four was renting a house on the lake for the weekend and was out in the boat taking turns surfing. The driver had stopped to allow a fallen surfer the chance to grab the rope and go again when Baillie reportedly took the opportunity to get in the water.
Immediately after restarting the boat, Dial said witnesses described hearing a loud grinding sound followed by Baillie’s screaming.
The impact damaged the boat’s propeller.
Whitefish police, firefighters and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks personnel responded to the scene.
Firefighters and one officer got in a boat and met the group as they were coming in. Realizing Baillie was losing a large amount of blood, they applied a tourniquet and began treating Baillie for his wounds. From the Whitefish Lake Lodge, Baillie was taken by ambulance to Kalispell Regional Medical Center in critical condition.
Dial described the incident as a “horrendous accident,” stating no alcohol was involved and no charges have been brought.
“If not for those firefighters and my officer, he would have bled to death,” Dial said.
Baillie underwent surgery Saturday night, but his current condition is unknown.
Reporter Mary Cloud Taylor can be reached at 758-4459 or firstname.lastname@example.org.