A fourth person has died following Saturday boating accidents on Lake Murray, making it one of the deadliest weekends in memory on the lake, officials say.
It also raises to 12 the death toll on South Carolina waterways so far this year - more than all of 2009.
The four deaths on Lake Murray stem from two accidents involving four boats and 13 people, said Lt. Robert McCullough, a spokesman for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. Investigators have not determined whether alcohol was a contributing factor in either accident, he added.
Randall Carter, 36, of Irmo died shortly after midnight Monday at Palmetto Health Richland, said Richland County Coroner Gary Watts.
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He was among three men in a 14-foot Fishmaster johnboat that was hit by a 23-foot Sea Pro pleasurecraft after 11 p.m. Saturday, McCullough said.
Another person in the johnboat, Matthew Kyle Howk, 22, of Columbia died shortly after Saturday's accident, while a third unidentified man remains hospitalized, McCullough added. The two men in the Sea Pro suffered only a few bruises.
The accident happened while both boats were moving in open water between Susie Ebert Island and the Coast Guard Auxiliary station on Flotilla Island, McCullough said.
It was unclear Monday who was driving the johnboat, he said, adding no one was thrown from that boat.
Howk had moved back to Columbia in February after living in Augusta, said his father, George Howk. His son was an avid outdoorsman.
The younger Howk had worked until 9 p.m. Saturday, then met two friends to go camping on one of the lake's islands. He was a passenger in one of the friends' boats.
"The boat was a means to get to go fishing and camping on the islands on the lake," the elder Howk said.
Meanwhile Monday, the families of two women killed in another boating accident earlier Saturday were making funeral arrangements for their daughters.
Kelli Nichole Bullard, 25, of Lexington and Amber Golden, 24, of Woodville, Ala., were taking a late-night cruise with their boyfriends when their 20-foot Sylvan collided with a 23-foot Key West boat.
Both women were killed in the accident, McCullough said, adding they were not thrown from the boat.
Both boats were traveling between two no-wake zones around the Lighthouse and Lake Murray marinas, he said. However, their boats were not in the no-wake area.
Bullard's boyfriend of two years, Colt Lax of Lexington, remains hospitalized, said Lyn Hunter, a Bullard family friend. The other man in that boat, who has not been identified, also is in the hospital, she said.
The extent of their injuries was unknown Monday.
According to Hunter, Lax and the other man, whose family owned the boat, were best friends. Bullard graduated in 2003 from Lexington High and in 2008 from Columbia College. She taught school for one year but had decided to become a cosmetologist. She was scheduled to graduate from a cosmetology program in Lexington, Hunter said, and already was cutting hair at the Cho salon on Main Street in Lexington.
"She loved life," Hunter said.
Golden was a teacher at Hampton Cove Christian Academy outside of Huntsville, according to reports from The Sentinel newspaper in Scottsboro, Ala. She was dating the other man on the boat, Hunter said.
Saturday night, Bullard's younger sister attended the Lexington High prom. Bullard helped her sister get ready.
Then, Bullard and her boyfriend went to an O'Charley's restaurant about 9 p.m. with Golden and her boyfriend, Hunter said.
They went boating after supper.
"They hadn't been on the water very long," she said.
Bullard, Lax and the other man were experienced boaters, Hunter said.
The Bullard family did not know many details about the accident. "That's the least of their worries right now," she said. "These are good kids."
No one in either boating accident was wearing a life jacket. State law requires boaters to have a life jacket available for every person on board, but people older than 12 are not required to wear the jackets, McCullough said.
All had enough life jackets available for the passengers, he said.
Still, McCullough said, he did not think life vests would have prevented any of the deaths, since none of the victims had been thrown into the water.
"As big of a proponent of life vests that I am, this is one of those rare instances where a life jacket may not have made a difference," he said.
Both boats the victims were riding in were totaled, said Norman Agnew of Agnew Lake Service, which towed the vessels Monday to a DNR substation on Bundrick Island for inspection.
Eleven people died in accidents on state waterways in 2009, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
The number of boating accidents on Lake Murray in recent years was not available Monday.