Rep. Rehberg in Stable Condition After Boating Accident

Posted August 28, 2009 at 2:49pm

Updated: 4:23 p.m.

Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) was in stable condition Friday following a serious boating accident in Montana that sent him and four others, including a state legislator, to a hospital.

“Last night, Congressman Rehberg and two members of his staff were passengers in a boat that was involved in an accident on Flathead Lake near Bigfork. Denny is in stable condition and is doing well. His thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved,— Jed Link, Rehberg’s spokesman, said in a statement.

Rehberg, Montana’s lone Member, was boating in Wayfarers State Park with staffers and state Senate Majority Whip Greg Barkus (R) when their 22-foot boat crashed into rocks on the shore between 10 p.m. and midnight. Campers at the park heard the crash and called park officials.

Jim Satterfield, regional director of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, described the incident as “a serious boating accident.— Three people on the boat were flown by helicopter to Northwest Healthcare in Kalispell and two were taken by ambulance; Satterfield could not confirm how Rehberg was transported.

“As of five minutes ago, they’re in stable condition,— Satterfield said Friday afternoon.

Hospital spokesman Jim Oliverson said he didn’t think Rehberg was one of the people flown in by helicopter. Oliverson said he has known Rehberg for years and, as of Friday afternoon, the Congressman seemed back to his normal self.

“He’s typical Denny. He’s joking, but you know, obviously he’s got a couple bumps and bruises,— Oliverson said.

The park is closed through Saturday pending an investigation. Satterfield said investigators will look at a variety of factors, including the speed of the boat, the condition of the boat, whether people were wearing life jackets and whether alcohol or drugs played a role.

“Those are common in any accident investigation,— he said.

Rehberg had been scheduled to hold town hall meetings in Cut Bank and Shelby on Friday. Both events were canceled.

In 2004, Rehberg was in a horseback-riding accident while leading a Montana group on a trade mission in Kazakhstan. The incident, which involved Rehberg falling off his horse and getting stepped on by another horse, became the subject of controversy after some alleged he was drunk at the time.