Tulsa Man Sentenced In Fatal Grand Lake Boating Crash


Tuesday, December 30th 2014, 3:34 pm
By: News On 6


BY MELISSA HAWKES - NEWS ON 6

JAY, Oklahoma - A Tulsa man pleaded guilty to causing a boat crash that killed two college students on Grand Lake in 2013. He had been drinking alcohol when the ski boat he was driving crashed into a houseboat.

Tuesday, in front of an emotional courtroom in Delaware County, a judge handed down John Deselms' sentence. He'll head to prison for one year.

The families left the courthouse saying they do have some closure, but nothing will ever be the same again; but the victims and Deselms' families said they believe the sentence is fair.

8/20/2014 Related Story: Tulsa Man Pleads Guilty For Deadly Grand Lake Boating Accident

It was an emotional day in the courtroom as the families of Rachel Swetnam and Trey Varner took the stand to tell the court how their lives were forever changed on May 14, 2013.

“Friend, enemy, it doesn't matter, when you lose your child it isn't a good thing," said Rachel Swetnam's father, Jeff Swetnam.

Deselms was driving a boat with seven others on board when he crashed into Arrowhead Marina on Grand Lake, killing two of his good friends.

12/30/2014 Related Story: Closing Arguments To Be Made In Deadly Grand Lake Boat Crash

He took the stand to tell his friends families and their University of Arkansas friends he was very sorry, then, was handed a one year prison sentence.

“I believe judge Haney gave me a fair punishment and I fully intend to fulfill it,” Deselms said.

He admitted in court documents he had been drinking the day of the accident and had as many as ten beers.

His attorney, Clark Brewster, said he's shown complete remorse and accepts responsibility for his actions; Brewster was hoping that would be enough to keep him out of prison.

“This is a wonderful kid. He said, ‘This is okay, I can do this.' He was actually giving comfort and console to us, that's the kind of kid he is,” Brewster said.

For the families, it's the closing of a chapter, but Swetnam's family said that tragic day will haunt them the rest of their lives.

"I'll have closure when I die," Jeff Swetnam said.

Deselms could have received four years to life but will spend one year at a prison in Lexington.

After he's released, he'll be on probation for 14 years and required to do community service.