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Original Issue

Grim climax to a thunderous run

The little boat came screaming down Arizona's Havasu Lake in an attempt to break the world speed record for outboard-powered craft—136.401 mph, held by Mercury. Now Evinrude's delicate challenger was doing better than 150. Suddenly its bow lifted, lifted more and, as shown in clockwise sequence in these photographs, everything went flying and tumbling through the air—the hull, pieces that were breaking from it and the 35-year-old driver, Gerry Walin of Edmonds, Wash. Thrown from the boat as it flipped high above the lake, he hit the water, skimmed violently along the surface, then bounced into the air again before a final plunge.

Ashore, Walin's wife Lynne cried, "Oh, Gerry," and her voice seemed to hang in the air. Walin was taken to a Phoenix hospital, in critical condition from spinal, thoracic and leg injuries, and underwent heart surgery. At week's end his condition remained critical, but he was improving. The cause of the accident was not known; the air and water had been calm. The engine was a modified version of Evinrude's 135-hp model, and the boat was the one Walin had driven to a world record of 131.050 mph in 1966—the record that had been broken by Mercury.