GRDA report outlines details in fatal boating crash
BY SHEILA STOGSDILL World Correspondent
Wednesday, October 03, 2012
10/03/12 at 6:04 PM
JAY — A preliminary Grand River Dam Authority investigative report into a July fatal boat crash on Grand Lake shows an after-wedding party cruising in a 2008 Tahoe boat was stopped by GRDA police two hours before the collision for not following lake rules.
Alcohol use and excessive speed contributed to the crash of the almost 22-foot vessel when it struck a breakwater structure near Arrowhead South Marina on July 29 around 2 a.m., according to Aug. 7 report obtained by the Tulsa World on Wednesday.
The crash threw Monte Price, 39, of Jay; Brian Smith, 39, of Tahlequah, and Brooks Carroll, 17, of Eucha, into Grand Lake, according to a 13-page marine investigation report.
Price’s body was found 12 hours later in 50 feet of water in the Duck Creek arm of Grand Lake.
Dan Price, Monte Price’s father, declined to comment on the crash.
Roger Shane Carroll, 39, of Eucha was also injured in the crash. He is the Jay Middle School principal.
Messages left for Justin Alberty, GRDA spokesman, were not returned, but in an earlier email, Alberty said the final accident report should be ready soon.
GRDA police stopped the group shortly before midnight for operating above idle speed in a no wake zone, according to the report.
Investigators were not able to determine the boat’s speed after the crash, but it was determined the boat was above idle, a violation of Duck Creek rules, the report states.
The report stated there were numerous opened and unopened cans of beer found in and around the boat and an alcoholic odor was detected on Smith and Roger Shane Carroll.
Smith told GRDA police everyone had “a good buzz,” the report states.
The group had attended a wedding and reception early in the day, according to friends who attended the wedding.
GRDA police interviewed 15 witnesses.
The report states the elder Carroll was operating the boat. Witnesses reported to police they heard a loud crashing noise and found him slumped over the vessel’s steering wheel, the report states.
Smith also confirmed witnesses’ statements, saying Roger Shane Carroll was driving the boat, the report states. The last thing Smith said he could remember was the elder Carroll “throttling the vessel up” and a few moments later a grinding noise. Smith woke up in the water and swam to a flashing red light that was on the breakwater structure and climbed onto the top of it, the report states.
But Carroll’s attorney, Winston Connor II, said the elder Carroll was not driving the boat.
“Mr. Carroll has never denied that he was injured and located at the time of the wreck near the steering wheel,” Connor told the Tulsa World. “However, he denies that he was driving the boat or was in any way in any control of the boat.”
Connor said he has not yet seen the report.
On the night of the accident when the police asked the elder Carroll where he was seated at the time of the collision, Carroll said, “I wasn’t driving, Monte was” and “Why are you doing this to me?” the report states. “You can’t do this to me, I am a principal at Jay Schools, and I have a family,” he told GRDA police, the report states.
A blood test was performed on the older Carroll but results were not listed on the report.
Price’s autopsy reported his blood-alcohol level was .20 and his cause of death was an accidental drowning.
No one in the group was wearing lifejackets.