Barkus Recovering from Crash, Remembers Little of Circumstances

By Beacon Staff

Kalispell state Sen. Greg Barkus is back in Kalispell, and said he remembers little of the circumstances of an Aug. 27 boat crash near Bigfork that injured him and four others, including U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont.

As for when the results of the crash investigation will come to light and whether charges will be filed, Flathead County Attorney Ed Corrigan responded to inquiries from the Beacon by saying he, “can no longer discuss the details of the case, nor can I tell you why.”

Barkus underwent surgery on a broken pelvis in Seattle he suffered after the boat collided with the rocky shoreline just south of Wayfarer’s State Park. In an interview Friday, Barkus said he has three pins in his pelvis, several cracked ribs and an incision below his left knee. His wife, Kathy Barkus is recovering from cuts and bruises sustained in the collision.

Corrigan has said Barkus, the Senate Republican majority whip in the 2009 Legislature, was drinking the night of the crash, and authorities have yet to release his blood alcohol content level that night.

Barkus declined to comment specifically on what he drank in the evening prior to the crash.

“I had a minimal amount of alcohol to drink,” Barkus said.

When asked what types of drinks he consumed and how many, he replied, “Doesn’t matter.”

“That’ll come out later,” Barkus said. “I don’t want that to come out in the press.”

“I’m just going to try to work through the health issues first and we’ll work through the other issues later,” he added. “We can all be thankful to God that the extent of the injuries weren’t worse.”

Rehberg said he did not see whether Barkus was drinking at the restaurant, and did not see any sign that he was impaired at all as the group got back on the boat at around 10 p.m.

“I saw no signs of impairment at all, none,” Rehberg said.

Earlier in the evening, Rehberg said Kathy Barkus had a small container of margarita in a cooler on the boat when they picked up the group in Bigfork.

Asked what may have caused the crash, Barkus said, “I have no idea,” but added that he was using a GPS unit he had purchased for the boat this year. “I was pretty much relying on it,” Barkus said. He also noted that he drove the boat south from Lakeside and then pointed it north to Bigfork bay in order to avoid the shallow water at the mouth of the Flathead River due to its delta.

Barkus said he is grateful for the support he has gotten from friends and family in the weeks following the crash.

“I just want to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to everybody who has extended their best wishes and support,” he said.

For more on the conditions of the crash victims, click here for an update on Rehberg state director Dustin Frost and here for Rehberg’s account of the crash.

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