Radio star Eric Ferguson survives WaveRunner explosion in Wisconsin

Eric Ferguson

Eric Ferguson

Eric Ferguson, Chicago’s top-rated morning personality, escaped serious injury Saturday when the WaveRunner personal water craft he was riding on a Wisconsin lake exploded, sending him 15 feet into the air.

Calling it a miracle he survived, Ferguson said he expects to be on the air Monday hosting his morning show on Hubbard Radio hot adult-contemporary WTMX FM 101.9 as usual.

Ferguson, 49, said Sunday the accident happened on Powers Lake in Wisconsin, just southeast of Lake Geneva, where he owns a vacation home. He described the scene as “a complete inferno” when the WaveRunner exploded. “[It] launched me 15 feet in the air, and I landed about 20 yards from the machine,” he said.

“I was scooped out of the water by a passing WaveRunner [and] ended up in the hospital all day Saturday. They thought they'd need a trauma team, but amazingly, I walked in with some nasty bruises and needed a few stitches. I had the battery of CAT scans, MRI's and X-rays. All were negative. They anticipated some facial reconstruction, but I got the all clear.”

It was only the latest scare Ferguson has faced in recent years. In 2013 he underwent surgery for spinal stenosis that involved removal of a disk and fusion of vertebrae to relieve pressure on his spinal cord. In 2010 he was hospitalized twice for treatment of an irregular heart rhythm and underwent catheter ablation procedures both times.

Of Saturday’s ordeal, Ferguson said: “The police on the water told me the next day that after the explosion they expected to fish a body out of the water. Another miracle. I'm using up my nine lives . . . very quickly.”

Now in his 21st year as the star of The Mix, the native of Elburn, Illinois, is believed to be the highest paid radio personality in Chicago. In the latest Nielsen Audio survey, the morning show Ferguson co-hosts with Kathy Hart ranks No. 1 among listeners between 25 and 54 with a 9.5 percent share, and No. 1 among listeners between 35 and 64 with an 8.2 share.