CLINTON, Iowa — A popular, boat-based food vendor has sunk after hitting a submerged barrier in the Mississippi River in eastern Iowa.

MiMi’s Burger Boat co-owner Sonya Carey-Otte told the Quad-City Times they were traveling back to their home dock on Sunday when they collided with a barrier that ripped a hole in the front of the ship.

“Water just came in immediately,” Carey-Otte said. “There was hardly any time to find life jackets and save anything; we were going down, and we were going down fast.”

Carey-Otte’s husband, Dean Otte, captained the vessel. She said emergency responders rescued her and her husband, a child helper of theirs and their two dogs following a three-hour wait.

“Everybody’s safe,” Carey-Otte said. “It’s just devastating.”

The Bettendorf couple started the business about three years ago after purchasing the 54-year-old ship. The previous owners, Walter and Dana Geffert of Geneseo, had used it to sell burgers in the LeClaire Canal.

“It’s been a great hit here in the Quad-Cities,” Carey-Otte said, adding that they invested about $40,000 into the boat since acquiring it. “This is our only income at the moment.”

The boat remains partially submerged in the river. A U.S. Coast Guard spokesman said the owners are responsible for removing the boat from the water.

“The boat’s ruined,” she said. “Even if we get the boat out of the water, it’s done.”

Carey-Otte has asked family friend Chad Pregracke, founder of a river cleanup organization, to lift the heavy steel boat from the water. Pregracke said it’ll take a couple days.

“They called us the unsinkable ship,” Carey-Otte said. “Nothing’s ever happened to it until one wing dam took it out.”


Information from: Quad-City Times, http://www.qctimes.com