Two people are dead after a collision that took place on Lake Murray Friday night between two boats. Several others from both boats were hospitalized with injuries sustained in the crash.
The incident happened in the Dreher Island area of the lake, a popular spot for anglers and pleasure boaters. SCDNR officials responded around 11 p.m. after receiving word that a 16-foot boat and a 32-foot boat had been involved in a crash. At that time, one boater was found dead, and one person was missing.
Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher said 37-year-old Danny Phillips of Columbia was pronounced dead at the scene Friday night. Fisher said blunt force trauma was the cause of Phillips’ death.
Christopher Shawn Lanier, 28, was the missing boater. His lifeless body was found Saturday around 5 p.m. by divers after using GPS coordinates from both boats which showed precisely the location of the crash, said Sergeant Ray Lewis with the SCDNR. Divers found Lanier’s body not far from where the impact occurred.
“We were able to get coordinates from the GPS units in the boats that actually showed exactly where the collision occurred. That was a good starting point for the dive team and they were able to go right there. Within a short amount of time, they started finding debris from the accident, a debris field, and then about 5 o’clock, they were able to locate him (Lanier),” said Lewis.
According to Capt. Robert McCullough, spokesman for the SCDNR, the bigger boat, a 32-foot Intrepid power boat ran over the 16-foot bass boat. Phillips and Lanier, the two men who perished in the accident, were both on the smaller boat.
McCullough said no charges have been filed at this time, and that the cause of the accident is still under investigation. He said authorities are still waiting to interview others that were onboard both boats, and to see results from Lanier’s autopsy, which will take place Monday.
McCullough said that the occupants of the larger boat did not try to flee the scene, and that he has seen no evidence of alcohol having played a factor at this time. He did note that it’s not uncommon to see criminal charges as a result of incidents like these.
Phillips was the owner of All Things Wild, a wildlife and pest removal service in Columbia. Lanier was also involved in some capacity with the business.
The last time multiple people died on the same day on Lake Murray was in May 2010, when four people perished in two unrelated boating accidents within minutes of each other.