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Rep. Rehberg Hospitalized, Boat Crash Under Investigation

Authorities investigate the scene of a boat accident near Bigfork, Mont., that sent five people to the hospital, including Rep. Denny Rehberg. (Alex Strickland/Bigfork Eagle via AP)

Updated 7:10 p.m.
Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) and four others were hospitalized Thursday after a serious boating accident, and Montana law enforcement officials are investigating whether alcohol played any role in the crash, state officials said Friday.

Rehberg and state Senate Majority Whip Greg Barkus were hospitalized in Kalispell, Montana, along with Barkus's wife, Kathy, and two Rehberg aides. All five were in stable condition Friday afternoon, Kalispell Regional Medical Center spokesman Jim Oliverson told The Sleuth.

Their 22-foot boat ran aground on the rocky shore of Flathead Lake, near the town of Bigfork, sometime between 10 p.m. and midnight Thursday.

The congressman sustained a broken left ankle and "quite a bump on the head" in the boat crash, Rehberg's former chief of staff, Eric Iverson, told Montana state reporters during a conference call. Iverson, who still does crisis management for Rehberg, reportedly said the congressman underwent surgery to repair his ankle.

He said the congressman was not driving the boat.

Jim Satterfield, the regional director of Montana's Fish, Wildlife and Parks agency, tells The Sleuth that his agency, the Montana Highway Patrol and the Flathead County Sheriff's office are jointly investigating how fast the boat was going, who was driving and "whether alcohol and drugs were involved."

Asked if alcohol was found on board the boat, Satterfield declined to comment. "An investigation is underway," he said.

All five people aboard the boat, including Rehberg aides Dustin Frost and Kristin Smith, were taken to Kalispell Regional Medical Center, three by helicopter, two by ambulance.

Oliverson had no information on when Rehberg or any of the others might be released.

Rehberg spokesman Jed Link released a statement saying the congressman was "doing well. His thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved. We will continue to provide information as it becomes available."

Rehberg, who is no stranger to controversy, is a perpetual target for state Democrats. His apparent lead challenger in 2010 is Montana Democratic Party Chairman Dennis McDonald.

In 2004, Democrats had a field day exploiting Rehberg's congressional delegation trip to Kazakhstan in which Rehberg drank several shots of vodka, fell off a horse, got trampled by another and broke at least one rib. (Here is a link to a subscription-only Roll Call story on the subject.)

By Mary Ann Akers  |  August 28, 2009; 3:36 PM ET
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The Rebublican answer to T. Kennedy and.....he was already in the water.

Posted by: affirmativeactionpresident | August 28, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

A republican getting drunk and behaving badly. Say it ain't so Sarah. You betcha.

Posted by: msjn1 | August 28, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Interesting that you so called sleuths can pop these stories up without delay.
Wonder why you don't do the same when sleazy tax cheats like Charlie Rangel, apparently to find hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets that they have never declared in official documents before.
Like homes and quarter million dollar bank accounts.
Oh, that's right, he's a democrat slug who you phonies at the Post like to protect, isn't he?
Pathetic excuses for journalists are all that you appear to be. Not sleuths....just partisan political hacks.

Posted by: LarryG62 | August 28, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Why does every issue have to be so partisan?
How will this country ever move forward or set an example for other countries to follow our system? We need some type of common agreement on some issues to have some influence on world politics. We are headed down a path of self-destruction to a point of
no recovery. It appears that many would rather destroy this country than see it prosper without all of their views implemented,

Posted by: fmg617aolcom | August 28, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

I'm from Montana. Denny Rehberg has always been an idiot.

Posted by: elambert1 | August 28, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

"How will this country ever move forward or set an example for other countries to follow our system?"

Ha ha ha ha ha ahah ahaha aaaaa gee.
You don't get out much do you.

Our system? There are better systems in other countries we need to follow. And yes, I would emigrate if I could.

Posted by: shrink2 | August 28, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Another republipig behaving badly? Hard to believe from the party of moral values.

This yahoo will get his head handed to him in the next election. Americans are tired of drunk, drugged philanderers who have a "holier than thou" attitude. This is the cause of the incredible shrinking republipig party today

Posted by: joelpalmer | August 28, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Who was the fifth person ? Inquiring minds...

Posted by: smallcage | August 28, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Reminds me of a scene a year or so ago in New Hampshire. The democratic legislature was hemming and hawing about passing a boat speed law on Lake Winnipesaukee. They were vehemently opposed by the boaters association...headed by a marina owner and boater. Tide turned a bit after she piloted her boat while drunk at night in a rain storm and speeding into rocks, seriously injuring herself and I believe killing a passenger. Live Free or Die, eh?

Posted by: steveboyington | August 28, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Gosh, call Ripley's Believe It or Not... the Repuglicants had gone almost 11 day's without a major controversy...

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | August 28, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: funhog | August 28, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

This will come as no surprise to most Montanans. Regberg represents the gun-toting birthers/teabaggers/Palin crowd in Montana. They'll all claim that this is just a liberal plot to destroy Denny. Poor thing.

Posted by: dhkern | August 28, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Aw c'mon, he wasn't drinking. He was reading his Bible and preaching aloud how Democrats are all gay, all illegal aliens, all baby killers, all pacifists, all evolutionists and all smart enough to get out of the way of this "R" party moron. Too bad that idiot Monica Bachman wasn't with him. Then again, she would have probably "raptured" onto shore before the boat crashed.

Posted by: pookiecat | August 28, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Boating and Drinking go way back in history to before the Europeans ever found the New World. Growing up on Long Island every summer a few people would die from drinking and boating. Very sad.

Posted by: loki1967 | August 28, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Interesting that you so called sleuths can pop these stories up without delay.
Wonder why you don't do the same when sleazy tax cheats like Charlie Rangel, apparently to find hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets that they have never declared in official documents before.
Like homes and quarter million dollar bank accounts.
Oh, that's right, he's a democrat slug who you phonies at the Post like to protect, isn't he?
Pathetic excuses for journalists are all that you appear to be. Not sleuths....just partisan political hacks.

Posted by: LarryG62 | August 28, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Sorry Larry, but you calling someone a "partisan political hack" is like Moe calling Larry a Stooge.

Thanks for the laugh, though.

Posted by: Attucks | August 28, 2009 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Yes my goodness, that's a bit understating it to say he ran aground. That there is full throttle going ashore thinking it was the deep channel instead of the high rocks. Right lucky for all no one was killed.

Posted by: trawler | August 28, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

What a low our society has sunk to that when someone is injured in an accident all people can post is nasty and snide comments about the injured person. My prayers go out to the five injured people involved with hopes of their full recovery,

Posted by: lajoie145 | August 28, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

It's unbelievable what a nation is sissies the US is. Who cares if alcohol was on board? When did it become illegal for a guy to get wasted?

Now if the driver was f%cked up, that's a bit different. Alcohol laws though have gotten way too stringent. I personally drive my Corvette way better after six or seven scotches. In fact I got up to 145 mph just a month ago in Virginia. I drove so well, I out ran all the cops into MD and blew down Clara Barton to get home safe and sound.

Once there, I got in my gas guzzling Escalade and did donuts in a nearby parking lot to contribute to global warming. This summer just hasn't been as warm as normal and is worrying me.

Posted by: knight1977 | August 28, 2009 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Come on now, we know exactly who was to blame - the guy who sits in the Big Chair in the Oval Office. Of course if this had been a Dem instead, then it would have been Bush #2's fault. I am sure Darth Cheney and Clinton had their finger prints on this too.

Honestly, I am sick of reading about drunk driving accidents of any type. It is not about being drunk, it is all about being irresponsible when you are driving a moving vehicle. Is it going to make anyone better to know that the boat driver was totally drunk, or high? NO!

Hopefully, justice will be served upon the driver for being grossly irresponsible. Impared is impared, it does not matter if you are too tired, on Rx meds, high on illegal drugs, drunk, just too stupid to realise that you are too impared to drive, or unfortunate enough to not have people around you that care enough to take away your keys.

Posted by: skramsv | August 28, 2009 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Yes, as we all know, only Ted Kennedy is allowed to get drunk and kill people.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | August 28, 2009 9:21 PM | Report abuse


Interesting comment, which by the way, identifies you as a political hack by your definition.

The reason our government has been in a constant state of failure since 1996, is because people like you and dems are raising your voices to late in the game.

The only reason our government has failed the people, is because the people have failed our government. You the people have failed to provide proper oversight of your elected officials, whether it's a foot taping in the stall, or money in a freezer. It's you the people who keep re-electing these dumb A-holes. It's you the people who have forfeited your right to govern, and transferred that right to big business and lobbyist, who by the way are doing a terrible job of representing
all of Americans.
This happened because you the people got to complacent and comfortable and wrapped up in your own mundane lives to give a sh**.

So scream and yell and point fingers and blame, it won't change a thing for better or worse because you are no longer relevant to the running of this country.
And big money isn't going to return that right just because you don't like a particular political party.

If you don't have a huge ammount of money or the capability of raising huge amounts
of money, your voice will never be heard or taken seriously by any politician, regardless of their or your political stripe, which up until now has been the
color of money!

Posted by: victorlove1 | August 28, 2009 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Typical how the knee jerk right always plays the victim: boohoo the Sleuth is a political hack....boohoo Democrats let Charlie Rangel off the hook. But these are the folks who tried to have the Bush-Cheney White House sieze control of the U.S. Justice Deptartment for political gain. They need to get in a boat with Denny Rehberg and wind up in some hospital bed with a big bump on their heads.

Posted by: catcallboo | August 28, 2009 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Not all that unusual of an accident on this big lake. Many of the boats run a GPS unit that returns to the point at which it was turned on. If you happen to turn it on while the boat is still on the trailer, the GPS doesn't know the trailer wasn't on the water! The east shore is pitch black at night, and if you are not very familiar with the shoreline, you can certainly schmuck a boat!

Posted by: waksupi | August 29, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

One inaccuracy in the report: Rehberg's "apparent lead challenger" is in fact Tyler Gernant, the Democratic attorney from Missoula, whose fundraising efforts yielded the most during the first two quarters of the campaign.

Posted by: pamenglish | August 29, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Those morons ran our country onto the rocks, cheating a closet-queen into office to commit 9/11 and bankrupt us, the same as they did with that boat in Montana.

Death for Treason, fascist morons out of government.

Posted by: iamerican | August 29, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

We Montanans, especially those of us who live here in the beautiful lakeside village of Bigfork, are ashamed by the behavior of Dennis Rehberg and his local Republical buddy and state senate whip, Chris Barkus. They were clearly out partying bigtime at Lakeside, across from Bigfork, and roared back to their resort here three sheets in the wind. Sadly, the missed the well marked entrance to Bigfork bay by more than a mile and piled up on the rocks of a state park campsite instead. They've worked diligently to keep the ugly details out of the public eye, but some competent local reporters, some with national reputations, are digging out the facts. Rehberg says he wasn't driving the boat and that his blood alcohol level was "only" 0.5, apparently within the legal limit. Barkus hasn't said a word, but it's now known he was driving the boat and his alcohol level hasn't been released, probably because it was in the stratosphere. The saddest thing is that the worst injured are the staff aides, who are paid and therefore had to be their with their boss, Rehberg. One, just 27 years old, is reported to be gravely brain injured. The only published report thus far says his injury is "survivable," which may mean he'll be a vegetable for the rest of his life. Montana's good old boy Republican representatives must really be proud of their accomplishments these past few days. Hopefully, we'll deal with the problem in November 2010 just as we did when we jettisoned our utterly corrupt Senator Conrad Burns who took for money from Jack Abramoff than any other member of Congress. Montana is a very decent place despite the fact that some very indecent people reprsent us.

Posted by: dsrobins | August 30, 2009 2:06 AM | Report abuse

Looking at the boat and where it impacted the shoreline, I would say from a vantage point far away, that a prominent member of the Party of No, who espouses family values and a conservative lifestyle, had a case of being impaired from TOO MUCH BOOZE and wrecked his toy on a trip where he could not walk on the water so attempted to fly over it. . .

Posted by: robjen116 | August 31, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Yes, as we all know, only Ted Kennedy is allowed to get drunk and kill people.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | August 28, 2009 9:21 PM | Report abuse
So glad to see that his replacement has apparently learned so well.

Of course, no one could top Bush's record, 2,700 plus on 9/11 and over 4,500 during the war with the wrong country.

And he wasn't even drunk. Be proud, Republicans, be VERY proud.

Posted by: dennissuper | September 1, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Goodness, this guy seems to be accident prone. I would appreciate it if all our government officials would stop traipsing around the world at the public's expense. This is becoming more and more outrageous with the country suffering through these financially grim times.

Posted by: equalon | September 1, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Montana replaces it's cranky old corrupt Republican Senator Burns for Democrat Jon Tester in the 2006. They'll replace their congressman for a Democrat in 2010.

America has had it with these extreme right-wingers.

Posted by: thebobbob | September 1, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Accidents happen, even to good people, so why not Denny? I believe in nationalized healthcare, so does Congress, the Senate, the President, all State and Federal employees: they all like it a lot. Denny is happy with his health coverage: his wife is happy with his health coverage, and state Senate Majority Whip Greg Barkus is happy. Are the 2 aides public employees or private employees hired by a government official, and therefore like the rest of us, uninsured until 70+. And they weren't even driving.

Posted by: TheSpectator | September 4, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Denny Rehberg has been faxing it in for we Montanans for some time now. Still doesn't think Global Climate Change is happening, anti-health care reform, you name it. He could be the standard bearer for the Party of NO.

Now I'm not a boat owner but I do know that when operating a boat at night, you drop the speed way down. You can't tell how deep the water is under the hull, you can't see obstructions clearly... where's was Denny's sage advice to the driver at this moment? Probably the same place as his concern for his constituents as opposed to his concern for his Party's flacks.

Maybe his proctologist can help him with that condition...

Posted by: MT_Guy | September 4, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

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