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.