Woman injured in weekend boating accident at Wappapello Lake

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

WAPPAPELLO LAKE, Mo. -- A Doniphan woman is recovering after suffering what authorities describe as a severe cut when she was struck by a boat propeller Saturday while tubing on Wappapello Lake.

Melissa Cook, 21, was injured at about 8:14 p.m. "out in the main body of the lake," out from Rockwood Point, according to Missouri State Water Patrolman David Nelson.

"They were tubing; she was the only one on the tube at the time," Nelson explained. "They had been taking turns."

Cook, Nelson said, had fallen off the tube.

Boat operator, Robert Cape, 39, of Fairdealing, had circled the 1999 Basstracker deck boat around so Cook could get hold of the rope, Nelson said.

"She was at the back of the boat, trying to get on the ladder," Nelson said. "At the same time, the operator (Cape) was trying to put the boat in neutral.

"As he was pulling it into neutral, he heard her yell. He immediately shut off the motor. He entered the water with her and they loaded her into the boat."

Nelson said 911 was called and Cook was taken straight to Rockwood Point, Nelson said.

"Whenever I got there, she was lying in the boat," said Nelson, who got in the boat with Cook. "They had her wrapped in a towel."

After inspecting the wound to Cook's upper leg/back area, Nelson said, he held pressure on it.

Nelson described the wound as a "severe cut," which was about 10 inches long and appeared to be pretty deep. Cook also had other small lacerations, he said.

As Nelson was applying pressure, a paramedic arrived and was able to dress the wound.

"When the ambulance arrived, they took her up to the Eagles (parking lot)," where she was air lifted to Saint Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau, Nelson said.

Cook, according to Nelson, underwent surgery at Saint Francis. "The doctor said she was expected to make a recovery," he said.

Cook, he said, was expected to be hospitalized a day or so.

While Cook's injury was severe, it could have been much worse had the prop struck the femoral artery in the leg. "It very easily could have been a fatal cut," he said.

At this time, Nelson said, it appears Cook's injury was the result of "just an accident."

Nelson said some of the group had started at about noon with others coming later. Alcohol was not involved, he said.

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