Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mother and Daughter Die When Boat Capsizes Off SC Island One Adult Still Missing

The United States Coast Guard is reporting the following:

GEORGETOWN, S.C. - The Coast Guard, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Georgetown County Sheriff's Office and the Midway Fire Department are continuing their search for one person on the Waccamaw River, S.C., Thursday.

Four adults, one child and one infant were in a 15-foot boat when it capsized near the shore of the Waccamaw River in the vicinity of Sandy Island, just north of Georgetown, S.C. One of the adults swam to shore and dialed 911 for assistance from a cell phone. 911-dispatch relayed the phone call to the Coast Guard and other agencies to assist in the search.

Rescuers recovered the infant from the water and a 5-year old child also made it to shore safely. The infant is in critical condition at the Medical University of South Carolina. Two adults have been recovered deceased by search and rescue personnel during the search. The search continues for the remaining adult.

The release of names is being withheld following proper notification of next-of-kin.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to family members and friends of the victims of this tragedy," said Capt. Michael McAllister, commander of the Coast Guard Sector Charleston. "We will continue to use all our resources to find the remaining crewmember."

Addtional Details by the Myrtle Beach Sun News"

Divers and emergency crews are searching the Waccamaw River near Sandy Island where a mother and her daughter were killed and a 17-year-old man remains missing after an overnight boat accident, officials said.

Six people were in a 14-foot fiberglass boat near the shore when it sank about 9:45 Wednesday and two women died, police said. Five of the people on the boat were family members.

None of the six was wearing a life jacket or knew how to swim, according to Sheriff Lane Cribb of the Georgetown County Sheriff's Office.

The search continues for Rishard Pyatt, 17, a senior at Waccamaw High School, who remains missing from the boat, officials said.

Sandy Island residents Shaquatia Robinson, 19, and her mother, Lou Ann Robinson, 47, died in the boat accident and were found earlier today, officials said.

Shaquatia Robinson was pronounced dead at 12:38 a.m. today and autopsy was completed this morning, but the results would not be announced until later today, Georgetown County Coroner Kenny Johnson said.

Robinson graduated from Waccamaw High School last year and grief counselors are at the school today to address any needs from students, faculty or parents, said Ray White, spokesman with the Georgetown County School District.

``Our prayers go out to the family and friends,'' White said. ``This is a horrible accident.''

Robinson's mother, Lou Ann Robinson, was found dead at 8 a.m. today about 300 yards from where the boat sank, Kenny Johnson said. An autopsy for Lou Ann Robinson is scheduled for Friday.

When asked if this was the most tragic boating death in Georgetown County history, Cribb said, "All of them are bad. But lately, this is the most tragic we've had because of death and a family lost."

A woman, who has not been identified but was also in the boat, was treated and released this morning at Waccamaw Community Hospital, officials said. A 9-month-old baby boy, who was riding in the boat, was flown by helicopter to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston soon after the accident. The child's conditions has not been made available.

A 5-year-old boy, who was in the boat when it sank, was not hurt or treated, according to Sgt. Neil Johnson with the Georgetown County Sheriff's Office. The boat carrying the family members started to take in water about 30 yards from Sandy Island's shore and sank, officials said. The boat was headed from the mainland to Sandy Island, Cribb said.

"They could see the island," Kenny Johnson said.

A woman who was operating the boat made it to shore with a child and went to a neighbor’s home and call for help, Kenny Johnson said.

Sandy Island, is a small residential community that is only reachable by boat. Its residents must come to the mainland for groceries, shopping and work. Twenty-one families live on the island.

In addition to searching for the missing teen, divers from the state Department of Natural Resources will search for the boat today to try to determine what caused it to sink, said DNR Lt. Robert McCullough. Officials are using a side scan sonar to search the water and river bank areas and will be at the scene until dark, he said.

``We're starting boating season and we can't emphasis enough how important life jackets are around the water,'' McCullough said.

Among the family members waiting Wednesday night was Jerome Weathers, who said he learned about the incident on his way home from work. He said police told him his daughter and girlfriend were dead.

"I have to get down there," said Weathers as he pleaded with police to past the police barricade to the landing.

At about midnight, an ambulance took Shaquatia Robinson to Waccamaw Hospital where they attempted to revive her with no success Johnson said.

Rescue workers with DNR the U.S. Coast Guard, Georgetown County Sheriff's Office, South Carolina Highway Patrol and Midway Fire Department called off the search around 2:30 a.m. as the weather started to worsen. Officials resumed the search at dawn this morning.

Windy weather conditions were observed by the National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C., at the time of the boat accident, but the bulk of the storm arrived about 30 minutes after the incident, Meteorologist Ron Steve said at 7:15 a.m. Thursday.

``The storms didn’t really get into the Georgetown area until 10:30, but it was windy ahead of those storms,’’ Steve said. ``Observations at the Georgetown County airport at 10 p.m. were winds at 17 mph and gusts at 25 mph. It may have been a little stronger than that over water without as many obstacles in the way.’’

The bulk of the wind and rain from the storm moved through Georgetown County between 10:30 p.m. and 3 a.m., Steve said. The windiest conditions were recorded in North Myrtle Beach where gusts peaked at 44 mph just before the storms arrived around 11:30 p.m., he said.

Water temperatures along the Waccamaw River were recorded in the 50s, Steve said. A weather service gauge in Winyah Bay at Hobcaw Barony showed the water temperature there at 10 p.m. was 54 degrees.

``When you’re in shallow water up the river like that it can vary some certainly more than the ocean,’’ Steve said.


  1. What an awful loss. We all need despartely to be sure life jackets are always on boar as well as be mouthy and say something to people who don't use them.

  2. So true Deb, and I love the idea of being mouthy!

  3. Yes, PFD’s are important and should be on board and folks that can’t swim should have them close at hand or wear them. But a PFD is not going to protect someone, if the water temp is way down there, just like seat belts are not going to protect a body from a head on collision at a high rate of speed. Folks need to stop taking boats for granted and make sure that their boat is suitable for the waters and the weather.