A civil complaint has been filed this week on behalf of a Prattville woman who was critically injured last weekend in a boating mishap on Lake Martin, and her husband, who witnessed the accident but was not injured.
Montgomery attorney Jere Beasley filed the complaint, asking that monetary damages be assessed against 22-year-old Patrick Cumbie of Montgomery. Cumbie is accused of powering an open motorboat into a crowd of swimmers, which included Sue Tatum and her husband, Kenny, then ramming into the pontoon boat aboard which several other members of the Tatum family and several friends were enjoying the lake.
The Prattville woman’s brother-in-law, Donnie Tatum — who was also a resident of Prattville — was killed in the incident. Alabama Marine Police charged Cumbie with one count each of boating under the influence and homicide by vessel. He is presently free on $15,000 bond, according to Elmore County Jail records.
Beasley said this week that actions such as those for which Cumbie is accused have no place on any waterway, especially one as busy as the lake on which the accident occurred.
“You just can’t tolerate that kind of thing, on any lake, especially not one as highly trafficked as Lake Martin,” he said.
The legal action, which was filed Tuesday in Montgomery County Circuit Court, contends that Cumbie “was legally intoxicated” at the time of the accident, that he “had a prior history that included drug and alcohol abuse” and that he “was incompetent to operate a boat or any other type watercraft.”
The suit also seeks damages against “Fictitious Defendant ‘A’,” the unidentified owner of the open motorboat, who “knew or reasonably should have known that (Cumbie) was an incompetent operator” and who “with such knowledge negligently entrusted the runabout to (Cumbie).”
The legal papers further claim that, due to Cumbie’s negligence, “Plaintiff Sue Gilmore Tatum … is believed to be permanently impaired and disabled.” Kenny Tatum “has lost the society and companionship of his wife” and “has incurred medical bills and will continue to do so in providing medical care and treatment for his wife,” according to the complaint.
Melody Ragland, marketing coordinator for Baptist Health, reported that the Prattville woman remained in critical condition at Baptist Medical Center South in Montgomery late Thursday.
On a positive note, friends of the family reported that Tatum, who was on life support for several days, has shown some improvement during her hospitalization. She reportedly underwent successful surgery, which resulted in a reduction of cranial swelling, and is now breathing without the aid of machines.
At least three other people were injured in the late-night boat collision, but each is reportedly recuperating from his or her wounds.
The most seriously injured among that trio was Prattville resident Greg Moates, who reportedly was thrown through the pontoon boat’s windshield when Cumbie’s boat plowed into the rear of the vessel.
Moates, who was treated and released at an area hospital, received cuts to his head that required more than 50 stitches and also suffered injuries to an arm and a leg. He is expected to make a full recovery.