Lake Tahoe Cruise Boat Runs Aground Minutes Into New Year

A paddle-wheel cruise boat ran aground on the California side of Lake Tahoe only minutes into the new year, stranding hundreds of revelers for about two hours in sub-freezing temperatures, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The Tahoe Queen became stuck near its dock in South Lake Tahoe at the end of a cruise early Thursday, said El Dorado County sheriff's deputies.

A tug eventually freed and pulled the boat with about 200 passengers to the dock, Coast Guard Ensign Jake Urrutia said, and there were no injuries. He said he was unsure what the boat became stuck on and how deep the water was there.

Two Coast Guard inspectors from San Francisco were headed to the scene to begin an investigation, which will determine whether Tahoe's low water level due to a prolonged drought was a factor in the grounding, Urrutia said.

"They're going to try to find out what happened to prevent a reoccurrence,'' he told The Associated Press.

The boat will remain docked until the inspectors determine whether it's fit to resume tours, he added. The extent of damage to the boat, if any, was not immediately known.

The temperature was in the mid-20s just off South Lake Tahoe when it ran aground, according to the National Weather Service.

The Tahoe Queen ran aground on a sandbar just off South Lake Tahoe in August, prompting rescuers to evacuate about 300 people aboard. No injuries were reported.

The Mississippi-style paddle wheeler takes tourists on daytime cruises highlighting the lake's history and sunset cruises that feature dinner and live music.

Messages left for Tahoe Queen managers were not immediately returned Thursday.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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