By Jeanne LeFlore
Witnesses report they heard screaming and saw a boat fly overhead and crash into another boat during a deadly July 4 boating accident, according to a report released by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
In July, Ryan Shumway, 30, of McAlester, made arrangements to be interviewed by the OHP’s lake division during its investigation into the death of Gary McIninch, 55, of Oklahoma City. McIninch died in the July 4 boating accident on Lake Eufaula.
Two children were also hospitalized after the accident. A 6-year-old girl suffered a head injury and a 7-seven-year-old girl suffered a leg injury, according to OHP. Both children were flown by medical aircraft to the University of Oklahoma Medical Center and were later released, according to a hospital spokesperson.
No criminal charges have been filed in the case.
The OHP report obtained by the McAlester News-Capital this week alleges Shumway was piloting a 1999 Crownline ski boat with no lights and three passengers when it hit a pontoon boat on which McIninch and the girls were passengers. The anchored boat and another to which it was tied were appropriately illuminated, according to the report.
The report states Shumway told police he was traveling at about 30 mph when he hit the vessel. Witnesses report Shumway was traveling closer to 40 mph, according to the report.
The investigating trooper also stated in the report that “he believes that alcohol also played a factor but cannot conclude due to the fact that Shumway left the scene and did not come forward until four days later.”
The accident happened on a heavily congested holiday on the lake as the group of adults and children sat in the boats. Another passenger of the group was in the water next to the boats.
The group had just finished watching the finale of a fireworks display over the lake, according to the report, when witnesses said they heard screaming. Some witnesses reported screaming at the driver of a boat that was coming at them, the report states.
The boat crashed into the pontoon boat, sending McIninch overboard into the lake, according to the OHP report. His body was found in the water two days later.
One of the witnesses reported screaming for the boat to stop and trying to make sure his children were safe.
“We see the boat coming at us and everybody started screaming at them trying to get them stopped,” Kenneth Noak stated in the report.
“The boat came over the front of the pontoon and over the top of the ski boat ... I was so frantic trying to make sure my kids were okay....”
After hitting the pontoon, which had been carrying 10 people — including five children — the ski boat landed atop the nearby Stingray boat that had four people on board.
The driver of the pontoon, Ronald Roberts, reported that he had been sitting in the driver’s seat when he looked over the windshield and saw the boat coming straight at them.
“I yelled at everybody to look out, ‘He’s going to hit us,’” he said in a written statement included in the accident report. “I saw the boat hit our boat. His boat shoved our bow up.
“It was pitch dark (...) the boat was going so fast that its momentum shot the other boat over our boat.”
Roberts said as soon as the boat cleared the pontoon, it came down on the other boat tied to the pontoon, according to the report.
Meanwhile, a statement in the report by Linda McIninch describes her search for her husband.
“I was on the ladder on the ski boat climbing in when I heard everyone screaming. I heard a boat hit the metal on the pontoon and then I heard the boat go over my head. I tried to find my husband and to see if everyone was okay,” she said in the report.
Another witness, Victoria Essary, also reported seeing the boat hit and screaming for her son.
“(The) boat slammed into the boat my son was on and flew over the top of the boat I was in (...) I was thrown in the water and started screaming for my son Maddox.
“By then we realized Gary (McIninch) was missing and we started screaming his name ... I checked over both injured girls and stayed with them until they were mediflighted to OU, ” Essary said in the report.
Several of the witnesses reported they watched as the boat that hit them circled around and came back. They reported that he later left the scene, the report states.
The report states a boat driven by an off-duty police officer stopped to help; several other boats drove past the accident scene.
Investigators have said they are waiting on a medical examiner’s report on Gary McIninch before filing any charges in the case.
A phone number for Shumway has been disconnected. His attorney, Warren Gotcher, has not responded to requests for comment on the case.
Contact Jeanne LeFlore at firstname.lastname@example.org.