per the accident report filed by the State of Oklahoma with the U.S. Coast Guard (BARD 2014-OK-0002) the two men were fishing and getting ready to change locations on the lake because the wind was getting stronger. They were going about 30 mph when the operator (Mashburn) let go of the steering wheel with one hand to grab for something in the boat. The boat turned hard to right and both young men were ejected. The operator reported he was sinking, but was able to get his boots off. When he looked back to where he last saw the passenger (McClure) he did not see him anymore. The operated treaded water till another boat picked him up. The boat involved in the accident continued to circle in the “Circle of Death” until it ran out of gas.
Jonathon McClure’s body was recovered later the same day by Grand River Dam Authority using sides canning sonar on the bottom in about 11 feet of water.
The boat was a 15 foot 1990 Thunderbolt 155 fiberglass bass boat powered by an 88 horsepower Evinrude outboard motor. In addition to the fatality, Sheldon Mashburn was reported as being injured beyond first aid.
Initial reports apparently incorrectly indicated the outboard motor hit a stump out in the middle of the small lake, the boat jerked to the right, they were both ejected, and the bass boat began spinning.
Historically, we have limited our coverage to propeller accidents. We have not yet seen that either of these young men were struck by the propeller, but we have come to recognize that runaway bass boats spinning in the Circle of Death hit some and miss some. It is pretty much a crap shoot. Some people safely swim away or are plucked from danger before they are struck, while others may be struck repeatedly and/or drown. Therefore we decided to use this local accident (about 100 miles from us) to help focus some attention on the problem. Read More→