LAKE MARTIN, Ala. (WRBL) – Charges have not been filed in Friday’s deadly boating crash along Lake Martin, although the case is expected to go to the district attorney’s office and be presented to a grand jury.
Friday, Troopers with ALEA’s Marine Patrol say a boater and his four passengers made a horrific discovery after they hit another boat. When the boater turned around to check on the driver, they found him dead on the boat’s floor.
Troopers are now reporting there were two boat crashes about an hour apart at the “Bridge to Nowhere” near Lake Martin’s The Ridge Marina.
56-year old David Goodling of Auburn was killed, and 62-year old Norman Harris of Leeds was injured, when their boats collided nearly head-on. According to investigators, the first crash is suspected of killing the Auburn boater and the second crash alerted investigators to his death.
“Around 8:30 Friday night two boats a Sea Ray and Chris Craft were in a collision near The Ridge Marina. And then about an hour after that another boat, a center console boat, hit the Chris Craft still out there in the same area,” said Captain Gary Buchanan.
Investigators say Harris contacted a friend and got his boat to The Ridge Marina where an ambulance was called, and Harris went to the hospital.
“Investigators have spoken with him (Harris), and at this point, he doesn’t have much of a memory as to what happened. There are indications alcohol was involved in both the initial boat crashes – now the boat an hour later was not part of that – but the first two boats there are indications alcohol was involved,” shared Captain Buchanan.
Captain Buchanan says investigators were not alerted to the first crash until the second crash occurred about an hour later around 9:30 PM.
“At the last moment, they saw this boat which obviously had no lights on at this point, swerved and glanced the boat on the side. They turned around and found the boat severely damaged from what they assumed was from an earlier crash. Then they noticed a body in the boat,” said Buchanan.
That boater and his three passengers were not injured, they called 911 and towed Goodling’s boat to the marina.
“Part of being a responsible boat owner is being on the lookout for other boaters and doing what you can to help them, they did just that,” explained Buchanan.
At this point, no charges have been filed in the case. When agents finish their investigation, it will be handed over to the district attorney and presented to a grand jury. News 3 will keep you updated.