By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The driver of a pontoon boat was arrested for driving under the influence after his boat went over a dam this weekend. Officials say he and three others are lucky to have survived the fall.

The community nearby has been buzzing in the wake of the incident, which happened around 10:30 p.m. Saturday. The Wabasha County Sheriff’s Office says one person was able to jump off the pontoon before it went over the dam.

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(credit: CBS)

Three others stayed inside, and fell the roughly 50 feet before the pontoon landed upright. Amazingly, everyone was safe. Investigators believe the combination of darkness and alcohol was the main factor for the accident.

The four of them visited Mac’s Park Place campground just below the dam and then returned to their boat. It was when the launched the boat that they realized they were right near the dam.

“We heard a woman screaming ‘Help me, God help me.’ It was like a blood-curdling sound,” witness Julie Kassner said.

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Kassner’s friends rescued the woman, who had jumped off and swam to shore before the pontoon carrying the three others went over the dam. Everyone agrees it could have been a lot worse.

“People nowadays don’t help each other out, they look the other way. These guys to me, they were heroes. They had no idea what they were getting into,” Kassner said.

On Monday, police reported that the 51-year-old boat driver was arrested and later released. The Wabasha County Attorney’s Office is reviewing potential boating while intoxicated charges.

One person was being treated for non-life threatening injuries.

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The passengers are from Olmsted County.

Esme Murphy