Families of 2 men killed in Lake Murray boat crash seek damages

tflach@thestate.comJuly 1, 2013 

From left, Steven Michael Kranendon, 25, David Carl Porth, 24, and Steven Daniel Miller, 28, listen during their bond hearing at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center Thursday, Aug. 19, 2010, in connection to a pair of May 1 boat collisions on Lake Murray in which four people died. The three men face charges in the incident.


A late-night boat trip by three friends to camp on an island in Lake Murray ended tragically in May 2010 when two of them died in a collision with another boat.

Now the mothers of the two men are suing the third — the boat’s driver — along with the driver of the second boat involved in the accident.

The lawsuits filed this spring by Mary Howk and Lynn Leggette allege the deaths occurred as a result of carelessness and recklessness of the two drivers. Their sons, Matthew Howk of Columbia and Randall Carter of Irmo, died after the johnboat driven by their friend Steven Miller collided with another vessel driven by David Porth. The accident was one of two fatal late-night lake crashes that occurred almost simultaneously.

Miller, of Irmo, and Porth, of the Gilbert area, deny responsibility for Carter’s death, records show. No reply from either boater has been submitted in Howk’s death.

Criminal charges against Miller and Porth are pending.

Miller faces two counts of felony boating under the influence of alcohol. His boat also didn’t display lighting required at night, authorities have said.

Porth faces one count of boating under the influence of alcohol.

Prosecutors hope to settle on an outcome by the end of the year, said Nicole Holland, spokeswoman for the 5th Circuit Solicitor’s office.

“We’ve been working on getting all the parties together,” she said.

The damage lawsuits against Miller and Porth allege their boats were speeding, out of control and failed to yield to each other.

Both mothers called the crash in which their sons died a tragedy among friends during a court hearing when Miller and Porth were charged with BUI in August 2010.

Lisa McPherson, lawyer for the mothers, declined comment Monday on whether the effort to collect damages represents a change of heart by the women.

In general, a legal effort to obtain damages in South Carolina must start within three years of the incident.

The pair of fatal crashes occurred minutes apart between Susie Ebert and Flotilla islands in the heavily traveled northeast corner of the lake in the Ballentine area on May 1, 2010.

It was the deadliest day on the 47,500-acre lake in recent memory.

Two women, Kelli Bullard of Lexington and Amber Golden of Woodville, Ala, died in the other crash.

Steven Kranendonk of Irmo is serving 10 years in prison after his conviction in March 2012 for reckless homicide in that crash.

His family paid the families of Bullard and Golden more than $245,000 each in a settlement reached in September 2011.

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.

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