GILFORD, N.H. (AP) – A nighttime boat crash onto a rocky island killed one of three fun-loving friends and critically injured a second who is a marina manager and president of a boating group.

The state Marine Patrol said the women’s 37-foot speedboat crashed onto Diamond Island on Lake Winnipesaukee around 2:30 a.m. Sunday. The agency said Monday it was investigating, including examining the 37-foot Formula boat, whose bow was demolished.

The crash critically injured the driver, Erica Blizzard of Laconia. An experienced boater and executive at her father’s marina in Laconia, she is the president of the New Hampshire Recreational Boaters Association, which recently opposed imposing boat speed limits on Winnipesaukee, the state’s largest lake.

The crash killed Stephanie Beaudoin of Meredith and injured the second passenger, Nicole Shinopules of Burlington, Mass., authorities said. The three, all 34, frequently went boating together on weekends and were heading down the lake to Shinopule’s home when the accident happened, Beaudoin’s father, Edgar, said.

“The girlfriends loved each other,” said Beaudoin’s sister Linda Hamilton. “They always hung out.”

Blizzard and Beaudoin were best friends and Shinopules rounded out their circle.

“They just liked to have fun,” said Mandy Ewing, Beaudoin’s co-worker at the Laconia Clinic. Beaudoin “was just one those lucky ones that really enjoyed living and took advantage of every minute she had.”

Edgar Beaudoin recalled Stephanie, the youngest of his five children with wife Virginia, as “a very, very sweet young lady and a very outgoing person.” She was manager of patient relations at the Laconia Clinic. She would show up at her local gym at 5 a.m. every workday before going to start her job.

“It’s like hitting a stone wall for me,” Edgar Beaudoin said. “She died very quickly after the incident – almost immediately.”

Dick Hickok, a member of the boating association’s board of directors, told the Concord Monitor that Erica Blizzard was preparing to take over her father’s business, Lakeport Landing Marina.

“There’s no doubt in my mind the skill was there, the knowledge was there,” Hickok said. “Having a father who owned a marina, growing up with one, now running it, you almost have boats in your blood.”

In an e-mail, the association declined to comment Monday.

Blizzard was taken to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon with facial injuries and remained in critical condition Monday.

Earlier this year, she testified against proposed boat speed limits on the popular lake, where some landowners and vacationers complain about noise and danger from speeding boats, especially high performance ones. Legislators approved imposing a daytime limit of 45 mph limit and nighttime limit of 25 mph for two years beginning in January. Gov. John Lynch has said he will review it and talk to both sides before deciding whether to sign it.

Edgar Beaudoin said the women were on their way back from playing a Father’s Day prank on Blizzard’s father, who lives six miles northwest of the crash site in an area called Pendleton Beach. Beaudoin said they had put Blizzard’s father’s face onto pictures of President Bush and plastered the signs all over his yard.

“That was Erica’s little joke – go over at night and do these little pranks,” Edgar Beaudoin said.

Diamond Island, near much larger Rattlesnake Island, is just off the deepest, central part of the lake known as the Broads. Boats going any distance typically speed up on the Broads.

The boat was taken by barge and then trailer to a Marine Patrol facility where it will be studied for clues to the accident’s cause.

Lakeport Landing Marina officials declined Monday to speak to a reporter. The marina is a dealer for Formula boats, which include a high performance model with twin 525-horsepower motors. The Marine Patrol did not specify the model or equipment on the crashed boat and declined Monday to discuss the scope of its investigation.

Speed and conditions are part of every investigation of a boating fatality, however, and the damage apparent in photographs made speed an obvious area for inquiry in this case.

“I can’t understand why the girls were going that fast at night,” Edgar Beaudoin said.

State Rep. James Pilliod, R-Belmont, a sponsor of the speed limit bill, called Erica Blizzard a passionate advocate for her industry and customers.

“I’m sorry to hear this,” he told the New Hampshire Union Leader. “We knew that sooner or later there would be a major accident. This happens to be a very symbolic one.”

AP-ES-06-16-08 1815EDT


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