Distracted after losing his hat, man hits young daughter with boat, killing her, police say


A man took his family out on a boat in New Hampshire on Monday morning, hoping to teach his daughter to water ski.

Distracted when the wind took his hat, police said, he ran the 12-year-old over and killed her.

Zoe Anderson and her family had come from Colorado to visit relatives in Bridgewater, a small rural community on the shore of Newfound Lake, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader. It was just the immediate family who loaded into a small motorboat Monday and set out across the lake: Zoe, her parents and her sister, two years older.

Zoe's father was at the wheel. She trailed behind on the line - still learning the sport, police said.

"A beautiful day out on Newfound Lake, and they were looking to spend the day together," Sgt. Joshua Dearth with the state police marine patrol told WMUR-9. "In a blink of an eye, everything changed."

The family was on the north end of the lake by 8:30 a.m., police said, when Zoe dropped her line and fell.

The father turned around to get her, but something distracted him.

"His attention was momentarily distracted as his hat was blown from his head," reads a police statement.

The boat wasn't going fast, according to police, and the father quickly shifted into neutral when he realized something was wrong.

But it was too late; the girl went under. She'd been hit by the propeller, according to WMUR-9.

Zoe's parents and sister managed to get her out of the water. The family called 911 and rushed back to shore "with the tow rope still dragging behind the boat," per the Union Leader.

They docked near a strip of condos beside the lake, the newspaper reported, and did what they could. People rushed to the scene to help.

Someone tried CPR, but it didn't work. By the time a medical helicopter landed beside the lake, WMUR-9 reported, the child had died.

Later that day, reporters would crowd the shore. A the police sergeant told them what happened was "a tragedy in every sense of the word." Messages left for the Andersons by The Washington Post were not returned.

Police had no plans to charge the father, according to the Union Leader. They said neither drugs nor alcohol were involved.

Last year, 701 people died in boating accidents, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Among them were Miami Marlins star Jose Fernandez, who drove two friends into a jetty, and 9-year-old Kaden Frederick, who was dangling his legs in the water near Ocean City when he fell into it, and then a propeller.

As in most recent years, boating fatalities peaked in July that year. After alcohol and inexperience, inattentive drivers were the leading cause of death.