A speedboat collides with Stearns Wharf Sunday afternoon. Three people fell overboard but apparently were not injured.  (Christopher Foley photo / https://ambulant.photo)
  • A speedboat passes dangerously close to Stearns Wharf in the Santa Barbara harbor on Sunday afternoon.
  • Just before striking the wharf pilings, the boat appears to slide out of control.
  • A speedboat collision with Stearns Wharf in the Santa Barbara harbor sent those aboard sliding toward the water Sunday afternoon. Three people fell in, but apparently were not injured.
  • There were no apparent injuries in the collision.
  • Bystanders help crash victims up a ladder to the wharf deck.
  • At least one of Stearns Wharf piling was badly damaged in the collision.

A speedboat with seven people aboard crashed into the east side of Stearns Wharf in the Santa Barbara harbor late Sunday afternoon, dumping three passengers into the water and splintering a pier piling.

There were no apparent injuries.

The operator of the speedboat was cited for a misdemeanor under the state Harbors and Navigation Code, for driving in a reckless and negligent manner that endangers life, limb and property, Santa Barbara Harbor operations manager Mick Kronman said.

The man’s name had not released as of Monday morning, but Kronman said he has a slip in the harbor and was interviewed by authorities.

“He was pretty shaken up but he did not exhibit signs of being under the influence of alcohol,” Kronman said.

Witnesses told Noozhawk that the vessel had been doing doughnuts at high speed but got too close to the wharf on its last pass.

The boat struck the pilings near the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center, badly cracking one of them just under the deck and damaging a nearby ladder.

In photos sent to Noozhawk by reader Christopher Foley, the boat appears to tip sharply to the left as it passes the wharf before the impact of the collision sends three passengers into the water.

One of the trio was helped back into the boat, and the other two swam to a wharf ladder, where they were assisted by bystanders. None of the seven people aboard the boat appeared to be wearing a life preserver.

Witnesses said the boat appeared to be damaged in the collision but it allegedly left the scene before the Harbor Patrol arrived.

The boat operator was contacted at his harbor slip, Kronman said Monday morning.

City crews were on the wharf Monday to assess the damage to the piling and the ladder, and to check the integrity of the wharf in the area of the collision, he said.

The piling was severely damaged, he said. If it must be replaced, the city currently is working on its annual piling replacement project, which would be a “fortunate coincidence,” he added.

The boat had a jet engine, not a propeller, and Kronman confirmed there were no injuries in the collision.

“These people were very lucky they weren’t seriously hurt,” he said.

The Harbor Patrol is investigating the incident, including whether there were enough floatation devices in the boat for all the passengers.

A Santa Barbara Fire Department crew also responded to the incident.

— This story includes reporting from Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli. Publisher Bill Macfadyen can be reached at wmacfadyen@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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William M. Macfadyen, Noozhawk Publisher

Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at wmacfadyen@noozhawk.com, and follow him on Instagram: @bill.macfadyen. The opinions expressed are his own.