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FWC SEEKS DISMISSAL OF CHARGES

September 2, 2003
Contact: Capt. Bob Douglas (850) 233-5150       

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and State Attorney’s office are dropping charges filed against a Callaway man following an accident investigation involving the death of Callaway resident Bobby Dean Johnson.

The 38-year-old Johnson, a paraplegic, was sitting strapped in his motorized wheelchair on a floating dock at the Men’s Club on Callaway Bayou May 3 when he fell in the water. Witnesses gave conflicting statements but alleged a 24-foot pontoon boat operated by Edward L. Parkinson came through the bayou too fast, causing Johnson and his wheelchair to go over the side. Parkinson lives on the bayou at 611 S. Bertha Ave.

Three men rushed to Johnson’s aid, cutting the seat belt and getting him out of the water after several minutes. Johnson was rushed to Bay Medical Center but died almost three weeks later on May 22. The Bay County medical examiner ruled Johnson died “from complications of near drowning.”

Based on witness statements and due to the fact that section of the bayou adjacent to the Men’s Club is by law a “no wake, idle speed zone,” FWC officers charged Parkinson with careless operation of a vessel and violation of an idle speed zone, both infractions.

“After reviewing witness statements, and as part of the investigation, we had officers go to the bayou at the Men’s Club with a much heavier patrol vessel than what Mr. Parkinson was operating and despite repeated attempts we could not re-create conditions that we believe could have caused Mr. Johnson and his wheelchair to fall from the dock,” said Capt. Bob Douglas, the FWC’s area law enforcement supervisor.   “Once officers concluded this was not a boating accident, they had no choice but to seek dismissal of the charges.”

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