Grand Lake Residents React To Deadly Boat Crash
CLEORA, Oklahoma - It's not even the peak season for Oklahoma's lakes. And while no time is a good time, neighbors in Duck Creek say it's much too soon in the season for an accident like Tuesday night's fatal boat crash.
Rachel Swetnam and Trey Varner, both 21 years old, were killed when the 22-foot ski boat they were on crashed into a docked houseboat.
On most days, Jeanne Woods has one of the best views on Duck Creek. But Wednesday, she spent the day watching closely as workers used a crane to pull the Cobalt bowrider out of the houseboat.
"I'm really sorry it happened. I feel for the families, I feel for everybody," Woods said. "It's just one of those tragedies that happens, I guess."
Woods has lived on the same shoreline for 36 years. When she moved to the lake, she said her backyard was nothing but open water.
"In my younger days, it was swimming and teaching the kids to ski and going out and riding jet skis and going out in the boats," she said.
But in nearly four decades, a lot has changed, including the view.
Now, Woods lives on one of the busiest arms of the lake. It's flanked by two restaurants and numerous boat slips.
She said the development is good for her community.
"The view has changed, yes, but that's progress, and I guess I always knew it was going to change," Woods said.
In the past, a neighborhood association petitioned that the area was overcrowded and that the boat slips stuck out too far, making it dangerous for boaters.
One person was killed last summer when a boat, going too fast, crashed into a breakwater barrier near Arrowhead south.
Woods, was on the lake for that accident, too.
"There's been quite a few accidents in 30 years here on the lake, that I've seen," she said. "And you never like to see accidents, but they happen."
The crash is still under investigation. The GRDA said there are indications that alcohol and speeding contributed to the crash.
At night there's a no wake zone here on Duck Creek that all boaters must follow. But once the sun comes up smaller boats, up to 30 feet can go as fast as 30 miles per hour. Yesterday's accident happened at 5:30 p.m., which means the boat could have legally been going around 30 miles an hour. Investigators have told us the speed that boat was going, but say it was likely too fast. I spoke with several boaters who say the wake zone policy needs to change and should be in effect at all hours regardless of size.