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Tragedy Strikes as Car Crashes into Boat Club Building, Killing Two Young Siblings and Injuring Dozens

Car Crash at Boat Club in Berlin Township Leaves Two Siblings Dead and Dozens Injured

BERLIN TWP. — Police investigated and a community mourned Sunday, the morning after a car crashed into a boat club building where a birthday party was being held, killing two young siblings — ages 5 and 8 — and injuring more than a dozen other people.

Intoxicated Driving Suspected

A 66-year-old woman, whose name was not released, was driving the vehicle that crashed and was arrested for suspicion of driving while intoxicated causing death, a 15-year felony, and taken to the Monroe County Jail, authorities said. More criminal charges are expected, police said.

Verna’s Tavern Under Investigation

In addition, authorities said, Verna’s Tavern in Newport, where the driver of the car may have been just before the crash, had been shut down and was under investigation. A sign for the eatery describes it as “Home of the ½-pound Verna Burger” and a place for “good times & great friends since 1938.”

Swan Boat Club Closes Down

The Swan Boat Club — where the party was being held at 6332 Brancheau Road, about 30 minutes southwest of Detroit — posted on Facebook it would be closed Sunday, the result of the “terrible accident” with many injuries and much damage.

Vehicle Crash Details

Monroe County Sheriff Troy Goodnough’s voice quivered as he spoke to news media.

He appeared to hold back tears as he read a statement that described the scene after the car went through a wall at about 3 p.m. Saturday. It was, he said, “extremely chaotic and with high level of emotions of those directly involved and those who witnessed this horrific incident.”

Goodnough said 15 people, including adults, were injured.

The vehicle, he said, slammed into the north wall, moving fast enough to go about 25 feet into the building until it stopped.

Search for Clues Starts at Verna’s Tavern

After the crash, Goodnough said, investigators were working at the scene to process evidence, identify victims, interview witnesses, and reunite family members separated in the sudden chaos of the deadly and tragic crash.

At the end of the news conference, the sheriff, in response to a reporter’s question, confirmed that the suspect may have been at Verna’s Tavern in Newport.

“We went in, we shut the business down,” Goodnough added when pressed whether the tavern would be facing police scrutiny. “We are in the process of executing a search warrant for information as to the business conducted that day.”

Past and Present of the Swan Boat Club

In a sad twist, the area where the tragedy unfolded has long been a place to enjoy life.

The boat club, which was started in the 1940s as a place for boating enthusiasts on Swan Creek to meet to play cars, have a beer and kickback, mostly during the hot summer months, has faced its share of good and bad times over the years. It is just off Lake Erie.

The club, in its early years thrived, its website suggested.

The club history boasted of hosting “great regattas,” “snowmobile races,” and “famous chicken dinners,” which it still offers. At one time, the club noted, its membership included Michigan’s Gov. G. Mennen (Soapy) Williams.

In the ’70s, the website said its membership dropped to less than 50 members. But since then, the club — which now also offers dockage for more than 125 member boats up to 40 feet long — said its numbers have rebounded and was “sound and prosperous with a card-carrying membership of over 250!”

Contact Frank Witsil: 313-222-5022 or [email protected].

Published: 2024-04-21 12:26:03 +0000 UTC | Updated: 2024-04-21 12:28:56 +0000 UTC

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