Wednesday, July 20, 2011
A San Diego woman and her 79-year-old father are recovering from injuries sustained when their boat slammed into a whale near Shelter Island on Monday.
Patti Picchietti and her father told 10News they were about a quarter mile off Shelter Island when out of nowhere, they hit what seemed like an invisible brick wall. She said the impact was fierce.
"The boat came up… and I hit my face… and… ended up on the floor," said Picchietti.
Picchietti's father suffered bruises when he was thrown into the side of the boat.
"I was... gasping for air," he said.
Picchietti said she was in shock.
"What happened?" she said. "I go, 'Dad, I didn't hit anything... there was nothing there.'"
Minutes later, a jet skier came by and asked if the two were all right.
"I said, 'Yeah.' He goes, 'You guys hit a whale,' " she said.
They now believe the whale they hit was the same gray whale that was first spotted in San Diego Bay last Thursday. The whale was last seen sometime on Monday.
"I knew it was out there from watching the news the day before, but who would ever think you'd run into a whale?" said Picchietti.
She said her 18-foot speed boat was traveling only about 10 mph when the impact occurred.
Whale expert Margi Stenson told 10News being hit by a boat is a common cause of death for whales but usually happens when the whales are hit by a boat longer than 90 feet.
Now, many wonder where the whale is.
"Today, [I] went out there and did seven harbor tours - didn't see him, didn't see him once [and] didn't even hear about him," said first officer Steve Lopinski of Hornblower Cruises.
Picchietti said they never reported the collision. San Diego Harbor Police told 10News that they should have reported it because they were injured. However, police added that it would be highly unlikely that the Picchiettis would be cited for not reporting the incident.