HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) - A 35-year-old mother died after her 7-year-old son accidentallycrashed their powerboat into a pier on the Hampton River Sundayevening, according to police.
Virginia Marine Police Spokesman Don Bull said an adult allowedthe child to briefly steer the boat as the family was returninghome from a day on the water. The child veered the boat into andunderneath the pier at about 6:15 p.m.
His mother, Elizabeth J. Elliott of Hampton, was sitting on thebow of the boat and took the brunt of the impact, sending hercrashing through the boat's glass windshield and into the back ofthe boat, according to John Bull, Director of Public Relations forthe Marine Resources Commission of Virginia.
Stephano Leonardi and his family were enjoying the holiday intheir backyard overlooking the river when they heard the crash andsaw the boat start spinning in circles.
"My father, he jumped on the jet ski to go immediately straightover there with some line to try to pull it in," said Leonardi. "Afriend of mine actually went and ran and jumped in the water toswim immediately over there."
Leonardi said they pulled the boat and its stunned passengersback to their pier. He said the 7-year-old boy who had beensteering the boat was screaming and his grandmother, Elliott'smother, was frantic.
"He was just like, 'Help! Help!' and the older lady, I believeit was her daughter, she was screaming, 'Help! Help!'"
Leonardi scooped the boy up in his arms. "I picked him up andgrabbed him and we had to get him to land and I told some of theolder women to take care of him and get him away," he said.
Back on the boat, the boy's mother was bleeding terribly. "Youhad people jump in there to check vital signs, I mean she wasreally bad off," said Leonardi.
Bull said marine police have begun piecing things together.
"The boat hit the pier and then kind of submarined underneaththe pier. The woman at the front of the boat was thrown back fromthe collision and from the impact, apparently through a windshieldof the motorboat and into the back of the vessel."
Medics took the boy's mother to Riverside Hospital were shedied.
Virginia Marine Police have interviewed witnesses, and theirinvestigation continues, Bull said. He said police will hand overall the information they collect to the Hampton Commonwealth'sAttorney later in the week for a determination of whether anyoneshould face criminal charges.
Bull added that Virginia does not have any laws regarding agerestrictions for people operating motorboats, even though there isa law that requires anyone operating a personal watercraft to beatleast 16 years old, or 14 if they have completed a personalwatercraft course.
Norfolk Police are investigating the cause of death for male found unconscious on the beach.
Free Christmas trees will be given to active-duty members of the military and their families Wednesday.
The Dare County Board of Commissioners will hold a special meeting Tuesday evening on the Bonner Bridge.