Boating death case now waiting on grand jury

posted on:
September 10, 2008

author:
Mary Roney

WETUMPKA — The criminal case against a Montgomery man charged in a fatal accident on Lake Martin has been bound over to a grand jury.

Patrick Leigh Cumbie, 22, of 2203 Felder Terrace, faces boat­ing under the influence and homicide by vessel charges, re­cords in the Elmore County Courthouse show. He is free on bonds totaling $15,000, accord­ing to records at the Elmore County Jail.

Cumbie was allegedly under the influence of alcohol when the boat he was piloting ran into a pontoon boat Aug. 9 near Ko­waliga Marina. Donald Tatum, 62, of Prattville died as a result of the collision. Sue Tatum, his sister-in-law, was critically in­jured.

Cumbie was schedule to ap­pear in Elmore County District Court this morning to enter a plea on the boating under the in­fluence charge. A preliminary hearing on the homicide by ves­sel charge was set for Thursday. Both proceedings were to be be­fore District Judge Glenn Gog­gans.

District Attorney Randall Houston said the cases will be presented to a future session of the Elmore County grand jury, which meets four times a year. Houston didn’t know which ses­sion of the grand jury would re­view the case.

He said there are forensic re­ports that must be completed be­fore the case will be presented to the grand jury.

Until those reports are com­pleted, there’s no reason to have any court proceedings, said George L. Beck Jr., the Mont­gomery attorney who repre­sents Cumbie in the criminal charges.

“Mr. Cumbie made a state­ment to authorities and has co­operated in every way he knows he can,” Beck said. “We didn’t want to subject the families to any trial proceedings if the re­ports haven’t been completed.”

Cumbie also is facing a civil lawsuit, which was filed in Montgomery County three days after the accident. Jere Beasley represents the Tatums, and he said they filed the suit early be­cause they were having trouble getting police reports and other pertinent information.

Sue Tatum has been hospital­ized at Baptist Medical Center South since the accident.

“Her condition hasn’t changed much,” said Julia Beas­ley, one of the Tatum family’s at­torneys in the civil suit. “Her family is praying for a miracle, and they are very appreciative of the support and prayers of­fered by friends and relatives.”

Larry Bradford, the Birming­ham attorney representing Cumbie in the civil suit, was out of his office Tuesday. No trial date has been set in the civil suit, according to documents at the Montgomery County Court­house.

“All we can say is that we are sorry for this very unfortunate accident and that our prayers are with the Tatum family,” Bradford said in an e-mail. The complaint in the lawsuit alleges that Cumbie’s negligence led to Sue Tatum’s injuries and that she is “believed to be perma­nently impaired and disabled.”

Her husband, Kenneth Ta­tum, was near her when the ac­cident occurred but wasn’t physically injured. He is suing to pay for the mounting medical bills for his wife’s care and for his own emotional damage at witnessing the accident that in­jured her. Both ask for compen­satory and punitive damages.

Staff writer Hilary Funk con­tributed to this report.

Free Legal Consultation
At Beasley Allen, there is never a fee for legal services, unless we collect for you. Contact us today by filling out a brief questionnaire, or by calling our toll free number, 1-800-898-2034, for a free, no-cost no-obligation evaluation of your case.
back to top