GRDA: Speed, Alcohol Played Role In Fatal Boat Crash
GROVE, Oklahoma - While investigators are staying tight-lipped about the case, they have now said that alcohol and speed were contributing factors in a boat crash that killed two people Tuesday evening. They say, so far, they haven't found anything mechanically wrong with the 22-foot ski boat that crashed into a vacant 100-foot houseboat docked at Arrowhead Yacht Club on Grand Lake.
The image was hard to take in: a Cobalt bowrider stuck inside a 100-foot houseboat.
"We've had them where they've maybe come in, maybe accelerated when they got to the dock, maybe kind of--the boat hit the dock itself or something like that. But something like this is a little bit unusual," said GRDA spokesman Justin Alberty.
GRDA police say eight people were on board the ski boat before it crashed into the houseboat.
One of the people who died was a graduate of Cascia Hall in Tulsa.
Cascia Hall Headmaster Roger Carter Rachel Swetnam was a 2010 graduate of Cascia Hall. He says she came to Cascia in January 2009 after moving from Tennessee. Her father is a local physician.
She was a student at the University of Arkansas set to graduate next year.
Carter remembers Swetnam as a strong, kind young lady and a great student. The one thing he remembers the most about her is her charming Southern drawl. He says all of Cascia is keeping the family in their prayers.
Competing as Miss Midtown Tulsa Teen, Swetnam was crowned Miss Teen Oklahoma in 2010.
GRDA says the other fatality was William Lewis "Trey" Varner III. He was a student at the University of Arkansas, who was studying marketing.
The GRDA has identified the others in the boat as, John Deselms, of Tulsa, who was the driver of the boat; Taylor Perry, of Springdale, Arkansas; Eugene DeVerges, of Tulsa; Bryce Banham, of Tulsa; Taylor Reynolds, of Plano, Texas; and Chad Scott, of Perry. Deselms and Perry were taken to Craig General Hospital and were treated and released. Three others refused treatment at the scene and another had jumped from the boat before the crash and was not injured.
"As I said yesterday, it was a very violent impact, and the accident, while tragic in the sense that it was, it's pretty amazing that some people were relatively unhurt from it," said Brian Edwards, of GRDA Police.
The crash is still under investigation. The GRDA said there are indications that alcohol and speeding contributed to the crash.
"We have developed some theories on the accident and we're pursuing those right now," Edwards said.
The GRDA said this accident is a reminder of the importance of using caution on the water.
"This is such an unfortunate tragedy," Alberty said. "But, hopefully, we can prevent other tragedies like this in the future, you know, it's just that 'Boat safe, boat smart,' message that we always share around Memorial Day anyway. And with that busy traffic weekend coming up, we just want people to be careful."
The section of the lake where the crash happened is a "no wake" zone, meaning boaters are supposed to keep their speed down.