Boat collision injures 5

Less than a day and less than a mile from where a Charlotte man drowned in Lake Wylie on Saturday, two boats collided in Big Allison Creek at about 12:30 a.m. Sunday, hurling a half dozen Clover people into the water and sending five to area hospitals.

Rescue teams from Rock Hill, York County and Tega Cay responded in the darkness Sunday as they had at about sunrise Saturday when Christopher Lee Caston, 22, disappeared into the water. His body was found about an hour later. In Sunday's accident, boaters were still floundering in the water without lifejackets when rescue workers received the call at about 1 a.m.

Game wardens were checking fishing licenses on the Concord Bridge early Sunday when fishermen came running up the bank, said Sgt. Todd Campbell, a S.C. Department of Natural Resources officer in York County.

"They said, 'Call 911,'" Campbell remembered. "Then we saw the boats and heard people yelling. Quite a few emergency and rescue people came out and helped."

An 18-foot, 150-horsepower Triton bass boat had been heading east out of the creek at a bend in the lake when a 23-foot Larson pleasure craft moved westward into the creek, Campbell said. The westbound pleasure boat made a sharp left turn when its occupants saw the other craft. The bass boat struck the larger boat in the right rear. Both boats were destroyed.

"Both boats had their lights on, and they did see each other," Campbell said. "They were going pretty fast, but I don't know if speed will be a factor."

Ten adults and a child were returning from dinner at T-Bones on the Lake in the larger boat. A man and a woman were in the smaller boat. About half of them were ejected into the water, Campbell said.

One person was airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, and another was transferred to CMC from Piedmont Medical Center. Three others were treated at PMC. Both drivers were hospitalized. Although some injuries were serious, Campbell believed none were life-threatening. The child is believed to have sustained relatively minor injuries, he said.

Officials said they would not release names until the investigation is completed in another day or two.

"People need to be mindful on the lake," Campbell said. "There are no signs like on the road. Just because you see a boat, you don't know if he sees you."

According to Cotton Howell, director of the York County Emergency Operations Center, "having a good time and safety are not incompatible." EOC rescuers responded Sunday along with Rock Hill rescue teams and the Tega Cay fire department.

"At night, your depth perception changes, and sounds carry differently at night on the water," Howell said, speaking in general. "Just misjudging something can cause an accident, and alcohol plays a huge role in diminishing cognitive skills for good, sound decisions. Boaters need designated drivers, too."