Georgia boat crash kills five, man arrested for boating impaired
Death toll in Georgia motorboat crash rises to five as bodies of three missing people are pulled from river a day after two found dead – as a driver is arrested for boating under the influence
- Five people died after two boats collided Saturday on the Wilmington River
- Four of the victims were members of the Savannah-based Leffler family
- The other victim was Robert Chauncey, who was traveling in the other boat
- Mark Stegall, 45, was arrested for boating under the influence during the crash
- The cause of the crash is unknown and the incident remains under investigation
The bodies of three more people were pulled from a river in coastal Georgia on Sunday, raising the death toll from a head-on motorboat collision to five.
Two boats were traveling in opposite directions along the Wilmington River in Chatham County on Saturday morning when the vessels crashed into each other.
Two people were confirmed dead immediately following the crash, four passengers were injured and transported to hospital and three others were declared missing.
Georgia and U.S. Coast Guard divers recovered the bodies of the three missing victims from the bottom of the river on Sunday near the coastal town of Savannah.
The victims have been identified as Savannah resident Christopher Leffler, 51, his wife, Lori, 50, and their sons Zachary, 23, and Nathan, 17. According to WTOC, 37-year-old Robert Chauncey was also killed in the crash.
Mark Christopher Stegall, 45, also of Savannah, was arrested for ‘boating under the influence’ during in the incident, the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has confirmed. His bond has been set at $3,500.
Georgia DNR notes that the cause of the crash is currently unknown and the incident remains under investigation.
Five people died and four were injured after two motorboats collided along the Wilmington River in Chatham County, Georgia on Saturday morning
Mark Christopher Stegall (pictured), of Savannah, was arrested for ‘boating under the influence’ during in the incident. His bond has been set at $3,500
The two boats collided around 10.30am on the Wilmington River, in what’s known as a dangerous area near the Oatland Island Wildlife Center docks where Richardson Creek meets the river.
One of the boats was carrying six people and the second had three aboard when they collided, Georgia DNR spokesperson Mark McKinnon said.
The Coast Guard was alerted about the crash by a good Samaritan around 10.42am, prompting a rescue mission.
Two of the nine victims were immediately pronounced dead. Four others suffered minor injuries and were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.
Video posted by the guard on Twitter, revealed officials were able to rescue one person via a helicopter search, who was then airlifted to Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah.
The maritime security confirmed Saturday that at least one of the survivors was in good condition.
Four of the five victims have been identified as Chris and Lory Leffler (left) and their two sons Zach and Nathan (right). The couple’s daughter Katie (also pictured) survived the collision
Lori, Zach, Chris, Nathan and Katie Leffler are pictured from left to right
The two boats collided around 10.30am on the Wilmington River, in what’s known as a dangerous area near the Oatland Island Wildlife Center docks where Richardson Creek meets the river. One of the boats was carrying six people and the second had three aboard
The three remaining victims were found on Sunday after authorities resumed their search of the area and utilized sector scan sonar and divers, Sgt. Cindy Miller, of Georgia DNR, confirmed to WTOC.
The victims were found at approximately 9am in 14-foot deep water. DNR said the bodies were located in ‘close proximity to each other.’
Four of the five boaters killed were from the same Savannah family. The Lefflers, whose boat carried six passengers, are survived by their daughter, Katie, who had been on the boat with a friend.
Chris Leffler was a faculty member at Calvary Day School, an independent Christian academy in the area.
In an email issued to WJCL, the school said it was ‘saddened’ by Leffler’s death and asked the community to pray for their family.
Video posted to Twitter showed how the Coast Guard able to rescue one person via a helicopter search
Emergency responders are pictured responding to the scene of Saturday’s fatal boat crash
Saturday’s crash is the second involving a boat and serious injuries on the Wilmington River this month.
A local businessman was killed May 5 when a boat he was aboard struck an unlit channel marker near the Savannah Yacht Club and he was struck on the head by an unknown object, authorities said.
Memorial Day weekend, which culminates in ceremonies to honor U.S. military dead, sees many Americans flock to beaches, river fronts and other coastal areas to enjoy the outdoors at the start of the summer season.
Boaters and beachgoers are reminded to maintain safety protocols while enjoying the water.
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