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Woman hit by boat propeller on Lake Michigan loses lower legs: ‘Unimaginable pain'

WOWK Charleston logo WOWK Charleston 8/20/2022 Jenna Barnes
Woman hit by boat propeller on Lake Michigan loses lower legs: ‘Unimaginable pain' © Provided by WOWK Charleston Woman hit by boat propeller on Lake Michigan loses lower legs: ‘Unimaginable pain'

CHICAGO (WGN) - A fun day on Lake Michigan turned to trauma for Lana Batochir when the captain of a nearby boat reversed into the raft she was on with a friend.

The boat's propeller severed Batochir’s feet, and she has since needed three surgeries to amputate both legs ten inches below the knee. In the days that followed, Batochir hired attorney Francis Patrick Murphy to investigate what went wrong.

“They were enjoying a beautiful afternoon,” Murphy said of Batochir and her friend, who, on Aug. 13, were at an area of Lake Michigan known as “The Playpen,” a hot-spot where boaters congregate. “Lana and her girlfriend were knocked off of the raft and underneath the back of the boat.”

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Murphy said Batochir, a 34-year-old mother of two, is continuing to recover in the hospital. He’s also got plenty of questions following the incident.

“Was there a problem with the transmission?” Murphy asked. “Was there a problem with the throttle, or was it simply just a reckless act by a captain who did not look behind him before backing up?”

Batochir has since set up a GoFundMe to help pay for medical expenses. It had raised over $140,000 of its $250,000 goal as of Saturday morning.

“The boat's propeller struck me, leaving me with unimaginable pain,” she wrote on GoFundMe. “I thought I was dying.”

Batochir said her husband managed to pull her from the water, at which point she realized the extent of the damage.

“As I was getting pulled onto the boat I glanced at my legs and realized that both my legs were gone,” she said.

Since the accident at the Playpen, three people have died on Lake Michigan and another is missing. This cluster of incidents had police and fire officials sounding the alarm on Thursday.

“We want to make sure everybody stays safe and enjoys themselves,” said Chicago Fire Department Deputy District Chief Jason Lach.

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Murphy said that once Batochir leaves the hospital, she will continue her recovery at the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab, where she'll learn to walk again with prosthetics. Thankfully, Murphy says, she survived.

“She could have easily drowned,” he said. “She could have easily bled to death.”

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