Boating accident injures six

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 28, 2007

WINTON, N.C.—Six boaters were injured Aug. 18 when their 24-inboard-outboard craft struck a submerged stump in the Chowan River and jolted the passengers, leaving five of them injured.

James Green, 63, of Courtland and his 60-year-old wife, Faye, owners of the boat, put into the Nottoway River at Dockside south of Franklin with two other couples and went for dinner at Riverside Restaurant in Winton. On the return trip, they collided with the stump.

&uot;They thought they had hit another boat,&uot; said Tim Wadsworth, a North Carolina Wildlife Officer who is in charge of the investigation.

A call was received at about 10 p.m. at the Hertford County 911 Center, and the Winton Rescue Squad was the first on the scene. Both Winton Rescue and N.C. Wildlife put boats on the water to provide assistance.

Other injured in the accident was 63-year-old Lathan Bryan Jr., who was operating the boat, and his wife, Patricia, 59, of Franklin, and Jerry Hawkins, 50, and his wife, Debbie, 46, also of Franklin.

The boat was damaged and taking on water but was still afloat when rescue workers arrived, Wadsworth said. It was later towed back to Dockside.

Of the six on board, Patricia Bryan, Debbie Hawkins and Faye Green were taken to Roanoke-Chowan Hospital. Bryan was later flown from R-CH to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. She Wadsworth said. Two other members of the party were treated, Wadsworth said.

Wadsworth said a majority of the injuries were fractures, bruises and contusions. Wadsworth said the stump isn’t new and that most who regularly boat in that area of the Chowan River are aware of its presence in shallow water. He said the party saw the stump on the trip south, but collided with it in the dark along a narrow and winding stretch of the river.

The United States Coast Guard originally responded to the scene as well, looking for a second boat and possible other victims.

&uot;They were called in because the original call indicated they thought they hit another boat and thought people may be in the water,&uot; Wadsworth said. &uot;Once we became comfortable there was only one boat involved, they were called off.&uot;

The investigation into the accident is on-going. No charges have been filed.

Thadd White of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald in Ahoskie, N.C., contributed to this report.