Two Grand Prix class boats come out of the second turn Sunday. (Photo by Jim Waller/Whidbey News-Times)

Accident mars hydro event

Hydro for Heroes created a festival atmosphere over weekend in Oak Harbor, but spirits were dampened by the serious injury of one of the drivers.

Derek Bollinger of Lake Stevens barrel-rolled going into a turn about 5 p.m. Saturday and was struck by another boat, according to race director Lenny Baker. Bollinger was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, and Monday afternon he was listed in serious condition and in the ICU.

For the fourth consecutive summer and for the second year under the banner of Hydros for Heroes, the boats thundered across Oak Harbor Bay.

Race owner Craig McKenzie and the Craig McKenzie Team Foundation of Keller Williams Whidbey Realty hosted the event.

Outside of the accident, everything “went great,” according to McKenzie.

“The public came out in very large numbers to support the event and seemed to be loving it,” he said. “I can’t tell you how many people came up to me and thanked me for doing this.”

Accident dampens race

Bollinger’s family has been racing hydroplanes since 1959. This season Bollinger was piloting all three of the family’s boats.

He has also been one of the biggest supporters of the Oak Harbor event.

“He brings his boats up for all the Oak Harbor parades to advertise the event,” Jim Woessner, race manager, said.

Racing in the Formula 150 class Saturday, Bollinger rolled going into the turn and was hit by a trailing boat, according to Baker of the Seattle Drag and Ski Racing Association.

The Region 10 rescue team under the guidance of John Arwine was “exemplary,” Baker said. “In my opinion, they are the best in the country, and I have been racing for 22 years.”

Bollinger was breathing but not talking when the rescue team reached the crash site, according Baker.

Bollinger was airlifted to Harborview from the Seaplane Base by a crew from NAS Whidbey.

“(It is) always a scary sight when boats crash, and this was a tough one,” McKenzie said. “We are all saying some pretty large prayers that Derek makes a complete recovery.”

Racers enjoy Oak Harbor

The racers “love coming to Oak Harbor,” McKenzie said, adding they “feel like this is one of he best races and venues.”

McKenzie also received positive feedback from the public: “We were complimented repeatedly and thanked by the fans for putting on such a great event.”

One of the boat haulers broke down on the way to Whidbey Island, delaying the start of the race Saturday. That and the accident kept the organizers from being able to complete all of the heats over the weekend.

Proceeds from Hydros for Heroes go to the Rotary Club of Oak Harbor’s charitable works, including its Food for Kids Backpack Program.

As of Monday, bills and monies were still being reconciled, according to McKenzie, so the amount raised is not known.

“God willing,” there will another race in 2018, McKenzie said.

“This event has so many moving parts and things to consider, it is a bit overwhelming but yet very rewarding,” he said.

More in Sports

Cougars take 2nd in championship meet / Middle school cross country

North Whidbey Middle School placed second in the six-team league cross country… Continue reading

Wildcats win wild one with Eagles / Volleyball

It was not a match for the faint of heart. The Oak… Continue reading

Oak Harbor beats Arlington, waits for word on playoffs / Soccer

Winning 2-0 at Arlington Thursday, Oct. 18, in the regular season finale… Continue reading

Coupeville girls take 3rd, boys 5th in league meet / Middle school cross country

The Coupeville girls placed third and the boys fifth at the middle… Continue reading

3 Wildcats earn district berths / Tennis

Oak Harbor High School tennis players Nick Krantz, Ezra Franklin and Micah… Continue reading

Short-handed Wolves win / Volleyball

Competing without one of its most talented players, the Coupeville High School… Continue reading

Wolves lose, denied playoff berth / Soccer

A loss in its season finale and an upset win by Sultan… Continue reading

Coupeville claims winning record in tough conference / Tennis

A win in its final regular season match enabled the Coupeville High… Continue reading

Wildcats nearly upset Snohomish, now host Arlington in critcal match / Volleyball

Unable to pull off an upset, the Oak Harbor High School volleyball… Continue reading

Most Read