Shawn Lanier family says farewell
The lone survivor on a bass boat that fatally collided with a powerboat on Lake Murray last month has filed a lawsuit against the driver of the powerboat.
Lexington attorney Lisa McPherson filed the civil suit this week in Richland County court on behalf of Ashley “Ash” Thomas Wannamaker, who was injured in the April 21 crash that killed Danny Phillips and Shawn Lanier. David Bruce Dyer, president of Dick Dyer Toyota, is named as the defendant in the suit, which alleges Dyer’s “negligent actions, omissions and operation” of the boat caused the crash.
The complaint does not offer specifics about the crash, which is still under investigation by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, but says Dyer’s 32-foot Intrepid crashed into Phillips’ bass boat “with great force and violence.”
Officials have said Phillips and Lanier died from blunt force injuries. The lawsuit says Wannamaker was “seriously injured and almost drowned after being thrown from the overturned fishing boat.”
“He was pulled from the lake by people on other boats who were nearby at the time of the wreck,” the complaint states. “In spite of pleas from (Wannamaker) and the men from other boats who rescued him, defendant Dyer and his passengers rendered no assistance of any kind.”
Wannamaker had injuries to his abdomen, back, arms, legs and other parts of his body, according to the complaint, which also lists his wife as a plaintiff, saying she has suffered a loss of consortium following the crash.
The suit alleges, among other things, that Dyer was driving at an excessive and dangerous speed; driving while his abilities were impaired by alcohol and/or drugs; failed to keep a proper lookout; failed to yield the right of way; and failed to steer the powerboat to avoid colliding with the bass boat.
DNR indicated in the incident report taken immediately after the crash that Dyer had been using alcohol before the crash. Capt. Robert McCullough, a spokesman for the agency, said Dyer admitted to having “a few beers over the course of five or six hours” but that he passed a field sobriety test administered shortly after the crash. Dyer was not asked to submit a blood or breath sample because officers did not have probable cause, McCullough said.
In addition to Dyer, the complaint names the owner of the boat, Delaware-based BGIN NSX LLC, as a defendant.
A phone message left at a number listed for Dyer was not immediately returned Thursday afternoon.
The suit seeks punitive damages for the physical and emotional consequences it contends the crash has caused for the Wannamakers.
Phillips, who was driving the bass boat, was heading toward the final location of a fishing trip that night when the crash happened, his father told The State newspaper.
DNR has said speed appears to be a factor with both vessels. Dyer told officers after the crash that he saw a “green light” before the collision, which investigators believe was the light on the front of Phillips’ boat.
Investigators have said each boat was equipped with a GPS device, which can give investigators vital information about a vessel’s speed and direction of travel at the time of a collision.
McCullough said DNR expects to have a decision early next week on what criminal charges, if any, will be brought in the crash.