Criminal Unties Vista Boats; 1 Boat Nearly Collides With Freighter

Surveillance Video Shows Suspect In Action

DULUTH, Minn. – Video from shows the unbelievably close call between an unmanned Vista boat and a 750-foot ship gunning straight ahead into the Duluth harbor after a criminal unleashed that boat and another Vista boat from the dock behind the DECC.

“Nightmare, a nightmare situation.  We missed it by about 20 feet,” said Justin Steinbach, owner of the Vista Fleet, when referencing the close call between the Vista Queen boat and the freighter.

Steinbach says a DECC employee spotted the boats floating in the harbor at around 6:15 a.m. Thursday.

The Duluth Coast Guard was called and was able to nudge the Vista Queen, weighing 60 tons, away from the incoming freighter while dropping off a Vista employee who was able to fire the boat up and bring it back to the dock, according to Steinbach.

Steinbach says surveillance video shows a suspect untying the boats and even pushing the Vista Queen out and under the Minnesota Slip Bridge.

“For perspective, it takes us three crew members just to dock and moor this boat and unleash and take it out. So it is an incredibly difficult thing to do.” Steinbach said.

The video surveillance shows the boats floating in the harbor for nearly four hours, according to Steinbach.

The Coast Guard’s inspection of the vessels early Thursday came back with no damage.  The boats were back giving tours later in the day.

Steinbach says the water was thankfully like glass overnight.

“We were incredibly lucky it happened on weather conditions like that. It was clear, it was calm; there was no wind,” Steinbach said. “Under conditions like this like it is right now, they would have been on the south shore and sinking.”

The Duluth Police Department is investigating.

No arrests were made as of Thursday night.

A police official told FOX 21 the surveillance video should be released at some point in the future.

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