UPDATE: Rehberg Status

Below is an update of Congressman Rehberg’s status from the Associated Press hosted on the Bozeman Daily Chronicle website.  The article can be found here.

It looks like Congressman Rehberg is going to be fine and we are all very thankful for that.

Montana Rep. Rehberg hospitalized after boat crash

By MATT GOURAS
Associated Press Writer

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, two staffers, a state lawmaker and another passenger were hospitalized in stable condition Friday after their 22-foot boat ran at high speed into Flathead Lake rocks in the dark – leaving the vessel perched on the side of a steep outcropping.

“It was a pretty serious accident near Wayfarers state park,” Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Tom Palmer said.

Rehberg underwent surgery Friday afternoon for a broken ankle, suffered cuts and bruises and likely faces “significant recovery time,” said friend and former chief of staff Erik Iverson. Rehberg was a passenger in the boat, Iverson said.

“He took quite a bump on the head,” said Iverson, who spoke with the congressman before surgery. “But he was in good spirits and he was, quite frankly, most concerned with how everyone else was doing.”

Iverson said late Friday that Rehberg’s “ankle surgery went very well and he is resting at the hospital.”

Iverson, on an afternoon conference call arranged by Rehberg’s office, said the two staff members in the crash were state director Dustin Frost and health care policy adviser Kristin Smith. He said he could not comment on their condition.

The boat was found fully out of the water, facing uphill on a steep slope of solid rock. Investigators had the entire area cordoned off Friday.

The FWP said three people were flown to the hospital by helicopter after the accident sometime before midnight Thursday on the northeastern shore of Flathead Lake near Bigfork, but Rehberg was one of two people taken by ambulance. All five, including state Sen. Greg Barkus, were in stable condition.

The park was closed Friday while investigators worked the crash scene, and likely would remain so at least through Saturday, the FWP said.

The agency had not yet determined to whom the boat was registered and said investigators were still trying Friday afternoon to determine who was driving. An investigation report was not expected before next week, officials said.

Iverson said he did not know who was driving the boat either.

Rehberg had been scheduled to hold town hall meetings in Cut Bank and Shelby on Friday. Both were indefinitely postponed, as was his public schedule for next week.

Palmer said campers at the park heard the wreck, and the Bigfork Fire Department was immediately called to help. He said the state’s top boat crash experts were on the scene, but his department was giving control of the investigation over to the Flathead County Sheriff.

“Typically what they will look into is the condition of the boat and try to determine the following: the speed at impact, who was driving, whether or not they had the proper number of life jackets on board – which would have been five – determine if they were wearing any, and determine who was driving,” Palmer said. “Whether or not alcohol or drugs is involved is a routine part of such investigations.”

Iverson said he had no idea if alcohol was involved in the incident. He said investigators spoke with Rehberg on Friday morning, but Iverson did not know what was discussed.

State Sen. Gary Perry, a good friend of Barkus, said he had just heard about the crash and was getting ready to go to the hospital. Perry, from Manhattan, said he knew little about Barkus’ condition.

“It’s a tragic accident,” Perry said. “We’re praying for him.”

© 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy.

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