A tragic and fatal boating accident took place at Murrells Inlet on Wednesday night, taking the lives of three family members and leaving one boy in critical condition. The boat capsized on the Waccamaw River about ten feet from the shore of Sandy Island – six people were aboard the 14-foot boat when it went over, though no one aboard was wearing life jackets. Witnesses say the boat took water at the bow and then capsized, although the exact reason for the boat accident remains unclear.
The victims included 47-year-old Lou Ann Robinson, her 19-year-old daughter Shaquatia Robinson, and her nephew, 18-year-old Rishard Pyatt. Pyatt was a senior at Waccamaw High School.
Another passenger and the driver of the boat, Tiffany Tucker, along with her five-year-old daughter survived the accident and called for help. Baby Zyair Smalls was found by rescuers floating on a boat seat cushion among the wreckage. He remains in critical condition at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC. The water at the time of the accident was 50 degrees, and the one-year-old boy was airlifted to safety by rescuers. Reports are that they baby’s condition is improving despite the fact that he nearly drown.
South Carolina state law requires that children under 12 wear life jackets at all times while on the river. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources said that the accident is still under investigation and that it is not clear whether or not charges will be filed.
“At some point, we will make that decision, whether there will be any charges,” McCullough said. “Who would be charged would be the person operating the boat.”
Officials are still trying to locate the boat, and the search for the vessel will continue over the next few days. Autopsies confirmed that the cause of death of the three victims was drowning.
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