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Survivors describes 'total chaos' during deadly Colorado River boat crash


A survivor of the horrifying crash on the Colorado River said it was complete chaos as she fought the current and gasped for air after two recreational boats collided. 

Taylor Corbino was enjoying Labor Day Weekend with family friends when their Sleek Craft boat, which held six people, smashed into another boat with 10 passengers.

The body of Christine Lewis, 51, was found on Monday morning. Kirra Drury, Raegan Heitzig and Brian Grabowski remain missing. 

Lewis, Drury, Heitzig, and Grabowski were all on the Hallet boat with 10 passengers.  

Corbino recalled the moment she was sitting at the back of the boat, chatting with friends, when she suddenly heard someone exclaim ‘Oh, s**t’. 

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Taylor Corbino was enjoying Labor Day Weekend with family friends when their Sleek Craft boat, which held six people, smashed into a boat with 10 passengers on the Colorado River

Taylor Corbino was enjoying Labor Day Weekend with family friends when their Sleek Craft boat, which held six people, smashed into a boat with 10 passengers on the Colorado River

Corbino was chatting with friends, when she suddenly heard someone exclaim 'Oh, s**t' and they collided with another vessel. Pictured is one of the submerged boats

Corbino was chatting with friends, when she suddenly heard someone exclaim ‘Oh, s**t’ and they collided with another vessel. Pictured is one of the submerged boats

All 16 people were thrown off both boats when the two vessels collided on Saturday. Pictured is one of the recovered boats

All 16 people were thrown off both boats when the two vessels collided on Saturday. Pictured is one of the recovered boats

‘And I look up and next I see the boat, the other boat,’ she told Good Morning America. ‘And next thing you know, I’m in the water.’ 

Pat Kelly, Corbino’s father, was in a nearby boat when he heard the horrific crash. 

‘We were just turning into Pirate’s Cove and our buddy went by us and we were waving at him,’ Kelly recalled. 

‘And we see his lights going on, and then a horrific crash. The river’s all dark, it was totally dark.’ 

‘Sounded like a freight train hitting the side of a building. It was horrible.’ 

Corbino said she was underwater for so long that she couldn’t hold her breath anymore. 

‘The current was so strong it was moving me around and all I could think about was “get air”‘, she recalled. 

Pat Kelly, Corbino's father, was in a nearby boat when he heard the horrific crash. He immediately jumped in the water to find his daughter 

Pat Kelly, Corbino’s father, was in a nearby boat when he heard the horrific crash. He immediately jumped in the water to find his daughter 

Meanwhile, Corbino was fighting for her life. She said she was underwater for so long she couldn't hold her breath anymore.

Meanwhile, Corbino was fighting for her life. She said she was underwater for so long she couldn’t hold her breath anymore.


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‘I actually breathed in some water and all I told myself was. “Taylor, swim to the top to get some air in”‘. 

‘I swam to the top and my friend that I was actually sitting next to on the boat, I felt him grab me.’ 

Meanwhile, Kelly jumped off his own boat – which was about 50 yards from the accident – as he desperately tried to find his daughter. 

His friend Dave Dade, who was on the boat with Kelly and Kelly’s wife Kathy Boelter, said the river turned into complete chaos.

‘While we’re going into the crash site, there was debris everywhere. And I was afraid to roll the boat up, cause I didn’t wanna chop somebody up [with the propeller].’ 

The body of 51-year-old Christine Lewis, who went missing in the crash, was recovered on Monday morning 

The body of 51-year-old Christine Lewis, who went missing in the crash, was recovered on Monday morning 

Kirra Drury (right) and Raegan Heitzig (left) have been identified by their loved ones as two of the missing

Kirra Drury (right) and Raegan Heitzig (left) have been identified by their loved ones as two of the missing

Drury (center) and Heitzig (left) posted pictures of themselves enjoying the boat on the weekend of the crash

Drury (center) and Heitzig (left) posted pictures of themselves enjoying the boat on the weekend of the crash

Brian Grabowski has been identified as the male who is still missing after the crash. His wife Tabby  (pictured together) is recovering from her injuries at a Las Vegas hospital

Brian Grabowski has been identified as the male who is still missing after the crash. His wife Tabby  (pictured together) is recovering from her injuries at a Las Vegas hospital

‘I couldn’t find Pat. So his wife was hysterical. All she could say was. “Where’s my baby? Where’s my baby?”‘ 

Kelly said it was ‘pandemonium’ as people began screaming and crying.

‘When it crashed, we were just trying to find [Corbino], find anybody,’ he said. ‘We didn’t even know it was another boat until we heard other people screaming.’  

‘It was total chaos – and then I heard her. Somebody said, “Taylor’s okay”. I’m screaming “Where’s Taylor? Where’s Taylor?”‘ 

‘And then we knew she was okay, so we got over to that side, actually seeing her before we calmed down. But everyone seemed to be all right.’ 

Corbino, who just recently graduated from college, said she feels lucky to be alive.  

‘I thought I was going to die,’ she said. ‘I thought I was going to drown.’ 

She remains sore from the crash and said the survivors have talked little about the accident.

Lewis was a nurse at Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia, California for 22 years. She is credited with saving hundreds of lives 

Lewis was a nurse at Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia, California for 22 years. She is credited with saving hundreds of lives 

The Mohave County Sheriff's Office Division of Boating Safety will continue to search for Drury (pictured the weekend of the crash), Heitzig, and Grabowski

The Mohave County Sheriff’s Office Division of Boating Safety will continue to search for Drury (pictured the weekend of the crash), Heitzig, and Grabowski

Passenger Lance Nelson (pictured with Drury) shared this photo after the crash and wrote: 'Please come back'

Passenger Lance Nelson (pictured with Drury) shared this photo after the crash and wrote: ‘Please come back’

‘I think we’re all still in shock,’ she said. ‘It hasn’t hit us yet completely. It’s been a very crazy weekend.’ 

‘But when I do talk to them about it – we’re all very thankful and blessed to be alive. We shouldn’t be alive.’ 

Dade said he is still haunted by the sound of the boats crashing and the people screaming. 

‘It’s just 24 hours a day,’ he said. ‘It’s something that I would never want to see again. Never.’ 

Lewis was a nurse at Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia, California for 22 years. She is credited with saving hundreds of lives. 

‘We are shocked and heartbroken to learn about the passing of one our own in this weekend’s tragic Colorado River boat crash,’ said Kaweah Delta CEO Gary Herbst. 

More than 60 crew members from Arizona and California searched for the victims starting at sunrise on Monday

More than 60 crew members from Arizona and California searched for the victims starting at sunrise on Monday

They tracked their route with a computer program that maps the riverbed during the search

They tracked their route with a computer program that maps the riverbed during the search

‘Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those who knew Chrisi Lewis and to the family and friends still searching the river for their loved ones.’  

The Mohave County Sheriff’s Office Division of Boating Safety will continue to search for Kirra, Raegan, and Grabowski. 

More than 60 crew members from Arizona and California resumed their search for the victims at sunrise on Monday, according to USA Today. 

Meanwhile, two helicopters continued to search for the victims by air 

Meanwhile, two helicopters continued to search for the victims by air 

They tracked their route with a computer program that maps the riverbed while two helicopters searched by air. 

One detective with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department suffered minor injuries after participating in 10 dives in the last two days. 

‘This detective has been very tenacious with his involvement,’ the department said in a statement. 

‘[He has been] trying to do his best to help the family members get some sort of closure.’  

Divers called off the search when it became dark and will begin again on Tuesday morning.

The sheriff’s office said it will continue patrolling the river until all the missing victims are located. 

Mohave County Sheriff Doug Schuster said authorities are treating the search as a recovery effort. 

‘Technically, it’s a dive mission looking for potential drowning victims,’ he said. 

‘But I don’t want to give them the interpretation that there isn’t a remote possibility that they made it to shore.’  

All 16 people were thrown off both boats when the two vessels collided on Saturday. Some were swept as far as 3 to 5 miles downstream from the crash site. 

It is believed that none of the boaters were wearing life vests at the time, according to ABC News.   

A team of divers is pictured on the water on the Colorado River following the crash

A team of divers is pictured on the water on the Colorado River following the crash

Divers called off the search when it became dark and will begin again on Tuesday morning 

Divers called off the search when it became dark and will begin again on Tuesday morning 

The force of the crash also caused both boats to sink, according to the San Bernardino County Fire District.

Nine victims, including two in critical condition, were transported to nearby hospitals by ambulance.

Grabowski’s wife Tabby is currently recovering from her injuries in a Las Vegas hospital.    

The sheriff’s office has yet to determine whether speed or alcohol played a factor in the crash. 

Officials have said the boat carrying six people was going around 50mph when it crashed into the other boat, a claim that Dade denies. 

Dade and Kelly also said only their friend’s boat had its lights on before the crash.  



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