Contrary to rumor mill – McCutcheon not involved in boat accident

By  | June 21, 2019 | Filed under: News

Lauderdale County District Attorney, Chris Connolly

FLORENCE – “He’s not part of the investigation. I can’t say more about the case, but what I can allow is that neither Tom nor his boat were  involved,” Lauderdale County District Attorney, Chris Connolly told The Quad Cities Daily.

Lawyer Tom McCutcheon, who has been practicing for years in Alabama, is a highly respected person with high ethical standards and a man who owns a long history of serving the Public, this, according to numerous attorneys which The Quad Cities Daily has contacted for their opinion.

The boating accident on the night of June 8 on Shoal Creek has engendered much interest and speculation among North Alabama residents. State and Local Law Enforcement authorities are being seemingly more tight-lipped about this incident than normal. And McCutcheon’s name has been banded about frequently. As The Quad Cities Daily has researched and turned over every stone in this rumor-mill, we have learned the connection of McCutcheon with the tragedy are completely without merit.

Here is a summary of what we have learned about the incident that occurred between the Shoal Creek Bridge and the mouth of Wilson Lake about 10:50 PM. According to our sources, Ross N. (Trey) Wooten, his 4-year old son, and 37 year old Lauren Elizabeth Gardner Cowart and her five year old daughter Blakely Elizabeth, were out that night in his speedboat run-about. They had been cruising in Shoal Creek waters and were headed home across Wilson Lake to Donegan’s Slough. The other boat, a large cabin-cruiser, was out on the waterway in the same general area as the Wooten boat.

It is rumored by several of our sources that the run-about was traveling erratically, doing figure-eights and running at excessive speed for the conditions. There is nothing we have learned through our investigation so far to indicate the state of operation of the cabin cruiser. What is apparent, is that Wooten’s boat struck the cruiser almost head-on at a high rate of speed, slicing his boat in half.

It is suspected that alcohol consumption played a hand in the accident.

According to persons familiar with the incident, the cabin cruiser left the scene of the accident and docked at the nearby pier at Marina Mar before anyone from law enforcement agencies arrived.

Wooten was seriously injured and was transported to Huntsville Hospital for medical care, Elizabeth Cowart and daughter Blakely Elizabeth were killed in the accident. Wooten’s son, was found injured, but alive in the water and was pulled into a small fishing boat by two teenagers.

The Quad Cities Daily spoke with Chad Dyer, of the Marine Patrol Division of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA). Dyer was unable to give any comment on the investigation except to say that they will take whatever time is necessary to do a thorough investigation into the incident.

We have spoken to several local attorneys about the length of time in getting any substantive information out to the public. In general, the lawyers all said that even though this case has some complicating factors, it appears to them that the information would normally be flowing out faster from ALEA than it is in this particular case.

Because of the fact that Alabama laws which deal with boating safety are so strict, ALEA may just be taking all the time necessary to fill every gap in the case with factual information. Boaters who find themselves in fatal accidents can be charged with multiple felonies including homicide.

Here is a copy of the Alabama statute from The Alabama Boating Handbook:

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