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September 9, 2003
CONTACT:  Sgt. Gene Lollie (850) 233-5150
Capt. Ken Parramore (850) 233-5150

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has completed its investigation of a boating accident that occurred July 25 on Cinco Bayou near Fort Walton Beach.  On Monday officers charged both boat operators with two misdemeanors as a result of the nighttime accident that left an Auburn, Ala. mother and child dead.

Sgt. Gene Lollie, the FWC’s investigator in the case, said Donald R. Buckley, 40, Fort Walton Beach, who was piloting a 29-foot Sea Ray and entering Cinco Bayou, was charged with two violations of navigation rules.  Specifically, he was charged with failure to maintain a proper lookout and failure to maintain alertness and caution in a waterway with obstructions.  He was also issued a warning for improper placement of the bow light.

The other operator, Harold R. Crowson, 39, Fort Walton Beach, was at the helm of a 20-foot Sun Chaser pontoon boat and headed out of Cinco Bayou when the accident occurred.  Crowson was also charged with navigation violations.  He was cited for failure to take action to avoid a collision and failure to keep to the right (starboard) side of the channel.  He received a warning for failure to assess the risk of a collision.

The maximum penalty for the second-degree misdemeanor charges is a $500 fine and 60 days in jail.

Blood samples were drawn for both boat operators and tested for the presence of alcohol or drugs.  Crowson had no alcohol in his system.  Buckley’s BAC measured .037, which falls well below the standard .08 level for intoxication under Florida law.  Neither man had illegal drugs in their systems.

Lollie said the accident occurred at 8:33 p.m. as Buckley and his wife, Laurie, 38, were entering Cinco Bayou with the Sea Ray up on plane and approaching a bend in the bayou with a dock extending out in the waterway.  Crowson, who had owned the pontoon boat less than a month and had 10 passengers on board, passed under the Cinco Bayou Bridge headed out to the bay and saw Buckley’s vessel approaching.

“Mr. Crowson was too far to the left bank but kept thinking the other vessel (operator) saw him and would turn,” Lollie said.  “When Mr. Crowson did take evasive action and turn, it was too late.  Mr. Buckley saw Crowson’s boat at the last second and tried to throw his boat into reverse but the momentum carried his boat forward.”

The Sea Ray came to rest on top of the right rear of the pontoon boat, trapping Gregory Glasscock, 46, his wife Tina, 42, and their two-year-old daughter, Gracelyn, in the water.  The coroner said both Tina and Gracelyn died from drowning.  Gregory Glasscock was treated for bruises at the Fort Walton Beach Medical Center and released.





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