Winona County authorities say a houseboat that went through a roller gate at Lock and Dam Number Seven in Dresbach Monday, throwing eleven people into the water, experienced electrical and mechanical problems causing the motor to shut down.
Chief Deputy Ron Ganrude said seven of the passengers were taken to Gunderson Lutheran Hospital in La Crosse to be checked out. The others were not injured.
Ganrude said the boat's captain, Thomas Mattie, tried to pull the boat away from the dam by starting a second smaller lifeboat that was attached to the houseboat. But that boat did not have enough power to stop the 58-foot 2000 Sunstar boat from going through the roller gate.
Ganrude said the company that owns the boat, Mississippi River Rental of La Crosse, said the boat was valued at $175,000.
Ganrude said the boat was being rented by the group of nine people and had gone through the lock upriver to Trempealeau before turning around and heading back to La Crosse.
He said the captain and employee Martin Nuemann were showing the group how to operate the craft when it shut down.The group had intended to rent the boat for a week.
Ganrude said all eleven people were rescued by the U-S Army Corps of Engineers.
The passengers included Leroy Sellnow and his wife Sandra, Garrick Fischer, his daughter Kalin and wife, Sandra, as well as James Krause and his wife Arlene, all from Watertown, Wisconsin. Also on board was Steven Kieser and his wife Gifelle from Grafton, Wisconsin.
Ganrude said the normally closed roller gates at the dam were in an open position because of high water on the river and swift current.
Ganrude said the boat went through the first gate sideways before sinking.