The Associated Press
HELENA, Mont. (AP) - U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, two staffers, a state legislator and another passenger were hospitalized in stable condition Friday after their 22-foot boat ran into 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, who was a passenger in the boat but wasn't driving, underwent surgery Friday afternoon for a broken ankle, and suffered cuts and bruises, his office said. The boat was found fully out of the water, facing uphill on a steep slope of solid rock in an area cordoned off Friday by investigators.
"He took quite a bump on the head," said friend and former chief of staff Erik Iverson. "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."
The FWP said three people were flown to the hospital by helicopter after the accident sometime before midnight Thursday, but Rehberg was one of two taken by ambulance to the hospital. All five, including state Sen. Greg Barkus, were in stable condition.
The park was closed Friday while investigators worked the crash scene.
Rehberg had been scheduled to hold town hall meetings in Cut Bank and Shelby on Friday. Both were 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.
"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, 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.