The Pryor Times

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May 15, 2013

Students killed in Grand Lake boat accident

An evening boat ride on Grand Lake took a deadly turn Tuesday night. Two people were killed in a boating accident around 5:30 p.m in the Duck Creek arm of the lake.

A 22-ft. ski boat, carrying eight passengers all in their 20's collided with an empty houseboat docked in the Arrowhead Marina.

The two killed in the collision were said to be at the front of the boat. Reports say the victims were Rachel Swetman and William “Trey” Varner III. Both were University of Arkansas students where Swetman was set to graduate next year and Varner was studying Marketing. When given the opportunity to make an official statement Wednesday morning the University of Arkansas University Relations director Steve Voorhies an official statement will be released Wednesday afternoon.

Grand River Dam Authority police, who are leading the investigation, have not made a statement confirming the victims names.

Two passengers refused medical treatment and the remaining four were transported to Craig General Hospital in Vinita.

While the cause of the collision has yet to be released, officials say speed played a key role.

GRDA Assistant General Manager Brian Edwards was reported in saying the boat was traveling at an extremely high speed which resulted in the “sudden and violent impact.” Photographs taken at the scene the front end of the ski boat out of the water and on board the houseboat.

The official investigation is continuing to unfold as the story is being picked up all across Oklahoma. Crews worked overnight to pull the boats from the water to obtain further information about the event. There has been no official statement made as to whether alcohol was involved in the incident.

Lake officials say speed and alcohol are the two leading causes of boating accidents on Grand Lake. For that reason their official lake rules say that a boat of this size within 150-ft of wharves, docks, shorelines or other boats must not travel faster than idle speed. Boats are required to have proper navigation lights, and operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol is prohibited.

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