Two men are dead after two different nighttime, head-on boat collisions at Lake Jackson.
The first accident occurred Friday night, April 14, at 10:20 p.m., and it involved two bass boats, one of which was competing in a Friday night pot tournament.
According to Law Enforcement Col. Terry West, who cited an interview with the driver of the bass boat competing in the tournament, the boats were about to pass when the other boat suddenly turned.
“He came out of a cove, saw the other boat, and he said he assumed the other boat saw him,” Col. West said.
Both boats were in open water, and their running lights were on. The passenger of the boat that reportedly turned suddenly, Kyle Thomas Littlejohn, 22, of Milner, was struck by the other boat and killed. The collision occurred north of Barnett’s Bridge at the intersection of Tussahaw and Caney Fork creeks.
The other accident occurred at 1:55 a.m. Easter morning near Turtle Cove. Indications are that both boats were running on plane in open water, and it’s possible neither boat was operating with running lights when they hit almost head-on.
The boats involved were a 21-foot ski boat with seven passengers and a 17-foot Ebbtide with five people aboard. The boats glanced off each other and were sliding along their sides. The ski boat had a bar or rail that is common on ski boats where wake boards or skis are often hung, and the bar struck and killed a passenger in the Ebbtide, identified as Shane Blackmon, 30, of Conyers.
Both accidents are still under investigation, and no charges have been filed.
The Jackson deaths bring the yearly total to four so far on Georgia waters. There were two fatalities in February, one at a public pond in Coffee County when a jonboat capsized and a man drowned. In Camden County, a fisherman’s body was found floating next to his boat in the marsh, and it was surmised that he had fallen overboard and drowned.
According to national statistics compiled by the U.S. Coast Guard, collisions between vessels is the most common type of boating accident by almost a three-to-one margin over the No. 2 type, which is a collision with a fixed object. Operator errors account for 70 percent of boating accidents.