Investigation Continues Into Fatal Boating Accident On Claremore Lake

Friday, March 14th 2014, 6:07 pm
By: Emory Bryan

The investigation continues into a fatal boating accident Thursday in Claremore. It left a 19-year-old man dead, and the boat he was in running empty - in circles.

When people are on a smaller body of water, they sometimes let their guard down, but it's just as easy for an accident to happen on a small lake.

In the Claremore accident Thursday, searchers got a break in finding the victim, but some simple precautions might have prevented what happened.

On the water at Grand Lake, Brian Edwards can get a clear view of what's below the surface. Edwards is chief of Grand River Dam Authority Law Enforcement. He's using a side scan sonar - the equipment GRDA used to search Claremore Lake.

They were looking for the body of 19-year-old Jonathan McClure, the boater who went overboard, with the boat left spinning in circles. Even though it wasn't clear where McClure went under, his body was found in less than an hour.

"I was not surprised - I was very thankful, that we were able to bring it to a quick resolution, but we had a good starting point," said Chief Brian Edwards, GRDA Law Enforcement.

The search was easier with good equipment that can visualize what's down below.

3/13/2014 Related Story: Rescue Crews Find Body Of Missing Claremore Lake Boater

Authorities say McClure wasn't wearing a life jacket - and was on the bottom - under 11 feet of water.

The out-of-control boat indicates another safety precaution wasn't used - the kill switch that's on almost every boat.

"If you do not have it hooked to your person, it's not going to do you any good," said Derek Cotner, Brad's Boat Sales Service Manager.

"They're designed to hook to your person or hook to your life jacket. If you don't have it hooked up, it's kind of useless."

The kill switch turns off the engine if the cord connected to the driver is yanked out. It only works if the driver clips it on.

New boats have another feature - a foot pedal the driver has to push to keep the throttle above idle. But the kill switch is a basic safety feature, designed to prevent some of what happened Thursday.

"Just about every boat has one on it at some point," Cotner said. "Of course, some of the older boats, if it quits working or something like that, they may take it out."

Chief Edwards encourages boaters to always wear a life vest on the water - even though it's not required. He says with so many unknowns about the water - there's too many chances to fall in when you're not expecting it.

Sheldon Mashburn was also thrown from the boat but was pulled to safety by another boater.