One dead, others injured in boat accidents on two Alabama lakes

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (AP) — Divers and crews using underwater sonar devices searched on Friday for three people who went missing on two Alabama lakes after a pair of holiday boating accidents, and authorities later confirmed one person was dead in addition to several injured.

Both happened after dark on July 4 on large reservoirs that are popular destinations for people seeking relief from the summer heat.

Captain Gary Buchanan, a spokesman for the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s Marine Patrol, said searchers including dive teams trying to locate two people who were missing after two 19-foot boats collided on Lake Jordan, north of Montgomery. He added that five others were hurt, and two of them were hospitalised with serious injuries. The missing were identified as Clay Jackson, 26, of Deatsville, and Tyler House, 17, of Marbury.

“There’s probably 30-40 people on the water actively involved at this time,” Buchanan said in an email on Friday. Searchers paused at nightfall, and Buchanan said they would resume the search for the missing yesterday morning.

Crews also searched on Friday for a person missing after a boating accident on Smith Lake north of Birmingham, Buchanan said.

The agency later said in an emailed statement on Friday night that a 12-year-old girl had died and two other children were injured: another 12-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy. All were from Pontotoc County in Mississippi, it said. The statement didn’t immediately give details on just what happened or explain why authorities had earlier reported a higher number of injuries. Authorities said that accident involved a 19-foot deck boat style vessel.

Photos from the scene showed a rescue boat beside a fibreglass boat overturned in the water.

While skies were clear, high temperatures were forecast in the 90s this week and Buchanan said the intense heat made conditions worse for searchers, who were concentrated on recovering bodies on the nearly 2,840-hectare Lake Jordan rather than finding survivors.

“It works against us because of the stress that puts on the divers and their gear and the search teams that are out there in the sun and the heat,” Buchanan said.

Smith Lake covers about 8,500 hectares.