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Lake Martin boating accident leaves 1 dead, 4 hurt

Aug, 2008 — One Prattville man is dead, a woman is in critical condition, and a Montgomery man has been charged with homicide by vessel and boating under the influence after a horrific boating accident on Lake Martin.

One Death, Four Injuries in Lake Martin Boating Accident

Patrick Cumbie, 22, is in the Elmore County Jail under $15,000 bond for the death of Donny Tatum, a 62-year-old Prattville man, according to the Alabama Marine Police. Donny Tatum’s sister-in-law, Sue Tatum, is in critical condition after suffering life-threatening injuries, said Whit Moncrief, who is a Prattville resident and a friend of the victims.

Three other people suffered injuries and were taken to hospitals in Tallassee and Montgomery, said Marine Police Sgt. Gary Buchanan, who worked the crash. He did not believe their injuries were life-threatening.

Buchanan said there were people in the water around the stern of a pontoon boat. Cumbie ran over some of them and crashed his runabout into the right rear of the pontoon boat, he continued. He added that there were “about 11 people” on the boat or in the water when the accident happened at 11:30 p.m. Saturday.

Buchanan states that he thought all the people on the pontoon boat were from Prattville, but it was hard to determine in the chaotic scene that followed the accident.

“In a boating accident, you have the added dangers and complications presented by the lake itself. You can’t just drive an ambulance out onto the water to get to the injured.

They were in open water, as far as I know. They were not at a dock.

Everything involved with the accident is still under evacuation.”

— Marine Police Sgt. Gary Buchanan

Cumbie was arrested and charged with boating under the influence, which was increased to homicide by vessel when the victim died.

The boating accident took place in the Little Kowaliga Creek section of Lake Martin near Real Island Marina.

Officers from the Eclectic Police Department, deputies from the Elmore County Sheriff’s Department, and members of the Kowaliga Volunteer Fire Department responded to assist. Buchanan said neither boat sank, and both were driven back to the dock at Sinclair’s, a popular restaurant on the Elmore County side of Lake Martin near Alabama 63.

Buchanan said a couple of helicopters and multiple ambulances rushed to the scene to evacuate the injured.

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