This June’s Shoal Creek fatal boat accident heads to Grand Jury – UPDATE

By  | August 22, 2019 | Filed under: News

FLORENCE – The rumor mill, working overtime since a speedboat and a cabin cruiser collided on Shoal Creek, will finally begin to slow down as early as next week, when the case goes before the Lauderdale County Grand Jury.

The accident, which occurred late at night on June 8, near the mouth of the creek and Lake Wilson, resulted in the deaths of two Georgia residents and the hospitalization of a seriously injured boater. Adding to the intrigue of the mystery that surrounds the accident is the question, “Why did the cabin cruiser allegedly leave the scene of the fatal accident and head over to a nearby marina for the disembarkation of several people from the boat… And then return to the scene, awaiting the arrival of the Marine Patrol?”

It is known that 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. Cowart and her daughter were killed in the accident.

The other boat, a large cabin-cruiser, was out on the waterway in the same general area as the Wooten boat. According to what the Quad Cities Daily understood at the time, the cabin cruiser was being operated by North Alabama resident, Mark McBryer. Lauderdale County District Attorney, Chris Connolly told this reporter that both McBryer and Wooten have been cooperating with the investigation. In the proceeding weeks, information has been uncovered by our sources that perhaps another person other than McBryer may have been in control and was the actual operator of the cruiser. This has not been officially confirmed.

Questions have been floating in the Northwest Alabama news media as to why the basic information on this fatal accident was so difficult to uncover. Boating accidents are routinely reported within a few days of the incident. Information from state of Alabama authorities in this case, however, had a much slower reveal than is usually customary. Wooten’s name was released in the usual and customary time frame. The information from the other vessel took another week to release and only after a lot of phone calls to the State and local authorities.

But the mystery of all of this should soon be cleared up. According to our source at the District Attorney’s Office, the evidence in the matter will be presented to the Grand Jury on Tuesday, August 27. The results will be released when the Grand Jury reports out, which may not be until the following Tuesday, September 3.

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2 Responses to This June’s Shoal Creek fatal boat accident heads to Grand Jury – UPDATE

  1. Neal Wright August 22, 2019 at 2:14 pm

    1) Who was on the cabin cruiser?
    2) Why did they not assist or call 911?
    3) Why the official silence?

    • Marleen September 1, 2019 at 4:13 pm

      Very good questions

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