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Be VERY careful on the water, boater sentenced to 1 yr jail

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Be VERY careful on the water, boater sentenced to 1 yr jail

Old 07-16-2015, 05:49 PM
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Default Be VERY careful on the water, boater sentenced to 1 yr jail

This was a awful incident last year on Lake Hartwell where we boat/fish all the time

Not sure you can open with subscription so I posted the story


http://www.independentmail.com/news/...ating-accident


Dawn Thompson said her friends and family had a beautiful day on the lake on her boat last August.

As she piloted it toward a boat dock on Lake Hartwell, the boat capsized, killing two children on board, a 9-year-old and a 5-month-old.

Thompson, 53, cried for hours Thursday before and during a plea and sentencing hearing in 10th Judicial Circuit Court.

In the end, she was sentenced to one year behind bars and five years of probation after pleading guilty to two counts of involuntary manslaughter.

“We had had such a wonderful day,” Thompson told Judge Cordell Maddox at the Anderson County Courthouse. “It became very, very, very tragic.”

Thompson had a blood alcohol level of 0.065, near the legal intoxication level of 0.08, when her blood was tested five hours after the boat tipped on Lake Hartwell on Aug. 31, 2014.

While alcohol was a contributing factor to the tragedy, it was not the biggest factor, said Assistant Solicitor Lauren Price.

The 19-foot deck boat is a cross between a pontoon and a traditional powerboat, with a powerboat-like hull and top but with more deck space for people to sit and stand.

There were a dozen people on the boat, seven of them adults. All of the adults had been drinking alcohol, to varying degrees, throughout the day, Price said. Only Thompson, who admitted to driving the boat, was tested for alcohol levels.

The boat was rated for 1,870 pounds and was carrying about 500 pounds over the limit, said Sgt. Ray Lewis of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

“They had a good day,” he said. “No one saw this coming or planned on it. But could steps have been taken to prevent it? Absolutely.”
The boat sunk as it pulled into the Hudgens Lake Road dock in Townville around 9 p.m., going between 1 mph and 9 mph.

As it approached, several people on board stood, and according to some accounts, moved to the front of the boat.

Witnesses on the shore said after the boat took a turn, the right front of the boat dipped into the water, took on water and began sinking quickly.

Everyone was ejected from the boat as it went down, with 9-year-old Christian Henderson trapped underneath the overturned craft, Price said.

Christian was wearing an adult life jacket, but a proper jacket may not have made a difference because he was trapped, Lewis said.

Five-month-old Timothy B. Dragoo was wearing a small child’s life jacket, not an infant model, and a leg strap was not fastened so the jacket slid off, the natural resources officer said.

He was handed from adult to adult and slipped away at some point. His body was recovered later that night.
Thompson said the jacket had been her grandson’s and he had worn it from birth to age 1.
“I had a life jacket for every person,” she said. “I told them, ‘This one’s yours. This one’s yours.’ ”

Timothy’s father, Timothy A. Dragoo, wrote in a letter to the judge that he was not able, emotionally, to be in court, but he asked for a lenient sentence for Thompson. Dragoo said he felt it was an accident and Thompson would suffer greatly from guilt even if not imprisoned.

Christian’s mother, Jana Arrowood, said in court that her son would want everyone to heal and laugh but, when pressed, said some prison time was appropriate for Thompson.

“I can brag on Christian for hours; he taught me how to live, laugh, love,” she said. “But I can’t walk out of here and say probation or house arrest is OK.”

Thompson’s defense attorney, Ronnie Cole, said it was a “death boat” and Thompson’s driving had nothing to do with the sinking.

“I think of Ralph Nader, this boat was unsafe at any speed,” Cole said. “At no point has anyone said this boat was driven in a reckless manner.”

Lewis said there are thousands of similar boats and there were steps Thompson, and others, could have taken to make it safer.

Thompson also had six prescribed drugs in her system, including several that came with warnings not to mix with alcohol.

Cole said Thompson had worked in Christian television in Atlanta before a motorcycle accident several years ago left her disabled. For 7 years Thompson ran a non-profit that fed homeless people, Cole said.

“That’s the kind of person she is,” he said.

There was no recommended sentence from prosecutors or from Cole. Maddox said deciding Thompson’s punishment was difficult because it was not clear how much of a role alcohol played and how much all the other factors contributed.

“Children shouldn’t have been on the boat with drinking,” he said. “Ever.”
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Old 07-16-2015, 06:56 PM
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My bad - I missed the bit about alcohol testing 5 hours later. However, a bunch of grown adults on a boat and they ALL MADE IT BACK TO WITHIN FEET OF THE DOCK WITHOUT INCIDENT.

The overloading of the boat on the other hand... 7 adults and 5 kids is packed pretty tight but not impossible on a deck boat. 19' sounds tight, although it might be doable on a 21-22.

Last edited by Flot; 07-17-2015 at 07:41 AM.
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Old 07-16-2015, 07:01 PM
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Sad turn of events but she got off easy with 1 year ...

I have a ZERO alcohol policy !!!

Improper PFD's , and 500 pounds over weight and alcohol ...I am sure she WAS over the limit while operating the Boat !!! as she was tested 5 Hours later !!!
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Old 07-16-2015, 07:02 PM
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Only a year?
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Old 07-16-2015, 07:15 PM
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Big "girl" to get that kind of BAL after 5 hours she hat a LOT to drink !!!

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Old 07-16-2015, 07:22 PM
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Who the hell does the judge think he is making up laws as it suits him? Children shouldn't be on a boat with alcohol? What nonsense. Children shouldn't be on boats with intoxicated operators, fine. People shouldn't overload boats, also fine.
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Old 07-16-2015, 08:02 PM
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If by being 'very careful' you mean that I not:

test near the legal blood alcohol limit 5 hours after returning to the dock, after taking 6 prescription drugs which carry warnings not to mix with alcohol,
overload my boat beyond its capacity with a dozen drunks,
and incorrectly install the wrong type of life preservers on babies and children,

...then let me assure you that I have that covered.
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Old 07-16-2015, 09:02 PM
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1 year sounds about right to me. Very sad
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Old 07-16-2015, 09:05 PM
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She won't have anything left once the civil suits start.
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Old 07-16-2015, 11:32 PM
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Dont feel an ounce of pity for her. She stacked horrible decisions on top of each other and the outcome was horrendous.
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Old 07-17-2015, 02:12 AM
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As with most issues as of late it seems like everyone is going to be completely polarized on this issue too.

She was drunk and operating an overloaded boat, the kids were wearing the wrong size pfd's improperly. In my eyes she's completely at fault and should have gotten more than she did. When you have people on your boat you're responsible for them. They are trusting you and it's up to you to make sure you do everything you can to get them back to the dock safely. That doesn't include getting drunk and ignoring the load limits of your boat.
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Old 07-17-2015, 02:33 AM
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This is a very sad story and the families that lost members will never be the same. One year for two counts of BUI manslaughter, wth ? The body processes an average of .02 per hour, so at time of accident .165 Bac. She was twice the legal and was the captain of the vessel at time of accident. I thought there were some kind of guidelines for sentencing, apparently not.
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Old 07-17-2015, 02:33 AM
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She got off light, the parents should have adjoining cells as well.
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Old 07-17-2015, 02:53 AM
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Every pediatrician I've spoken to says no newborn on the boat until minimum of 6 months old. Every single one. (I've asked because mine is 5 months old). The smallest PFD they make is rated for infants under 30#. I highly doubt the 5 month old weighed half that

I think the boat was overloaded, I don't think she probably was. A year behind bars won't do her any good. The civil suits will keep her out of her cell for weeks of that sentence.
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Old 07-17-2015, 03:38 AM
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If I recall the details correctly they were pulling right up to the dock to get off when boat capsized . I think the whole bunch was stinking drunk and honestly was shocked at such a light sentence but if I am correct BUI laws are not as strick as when behind the wheel of a vehicle for some reason .
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Old 07-17-2015, 04:27 AM
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Originally Posted by ovrrdrive View Post
As with most issues as of late it seems like everyone is going to be completely polarized on this issue too.

She was drunk and operating an overloaded boat, the kids were wearing the wrong size pfd's improperly. In my eyes she's completely at fault and should have gotten more than she did. When you have people on your boat you're responsible for them. They are trusting you and it's up to you to make sure you do everything you can to get them back to the dock safely. That doesn't include getting drunk and ignoring the load limits of your boat.
^^^^ This. She had responsibilities that she shirked. How do you ignore weight/capacity ratings? Do people think that these numbers are simply made up out of thin air?

She blew 0.65 - 5 HOURS later! And she mixed prescription meds - that carry warnings about taking with alcohol.

Sorry, this one's on her.

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Old 07-17-2015, 04:59 AM
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Guess what the Boat Manufacturer is going to have to ante up :-( !!!
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Old 07-17-2015, 05:35 AM
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Originally Posted by tprice View Post
If I recall the details correctly they were pulling right up to the dock to get off when boat capsized . I think the whole bunch was stinking drunk and honestly was shocked at such a light sentence but if I am correct BUI laws are not as strick as when behind the wheel of a vehicle for some reason .
Not sure about South Carolina but in Georgia they passed a law last year that calls for the same limits as boats and cars.
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Old 07-17-2015, 05:46 AM
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This is what I don't get.... All those people on the boat, and not ONE of them could stay sober....?

What the hell were they going to do after they docked at the marina? Yep, all hop in their cars and DRIVE home.

It's tragic it happened, but when you are sloshed and the shit hits the fan, it's on YOU.

I don't think the boat manufacturer should be blamed for anything, the capt/passengers overloaded the boat WHILE they were all toasted.

If I put 50 people in the bed of my Nissan, get trashed and roll it, is it Nissan's fault?
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Old 07-17-2015, 05:54 AM
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I'll never understand the boating and drinking thing. I also don't understand why passengers insist on standing up and moving when I'm about to dock. SIT YOUR FAT ASS DOWN UNTIL I'VE TIED OFF!!!
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