DNR releases final report on deadly Lake Murray boat crash

DNR releases final report on deadly Lake Murray boat crash

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The state Department of Natural Resources released its full investigatory report of a double-fatal boat crash on Lake Murray that happened in late April.

The crash killed Danny Phillips and Shawn Lanier on the night of April 21 near Dreher Island State Park.

Investigators say the collision occurred around 11 p.m. when Phillips' 18' bass boat failed to give way to Bruce Dyer – who was driving a 32-foot center console boat – when the vessels collided. Dyer, according to investigators, made a sharp turn to try and avoid the collision. Dyer's wife and another passenger were thrown overboard during that evasive attempt.

RELATED: See photos of the crash and the two men who died. 

"Based on the review of Mr. Dyer's GPS, it was determined that he was not operating the boat in an unsafe manner and he was operating at 34.7 mph at the time of the impact," the report concluded.

Instead, DNR concluded that the bass boat was in violation of Coast Guard navigational rules and failed to yield the right of way to Dyer’s boat.

"Furthermore, toxicology reports showed that Mr. Phillips had high levels of marijuana in his system," DNR wrote in the report. Phillips, who was driving the bass boat, was found with a marijuana pipe in his pocket, according to the report.

The investigatory report also noted law enforcement found "a plastic bag with what appeared to be marijuana and rolling papers lying in between the driver and passenger seat."

The report also more thoroughly addressed Dyer's toxicology.

"A preliminary consisting of Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus was performed on Mr. Dyer by the first officers on scene. According to those officers, he exhibited no clues of impairment, so they continued on with the search for Mr. Lanier and assisting the other boaters involved in the collision," the report concluded.

Officers then conducted a full field sobriety test around 2:30 a.m. Investigators agreed Dyer was not impaired.

"Neither of us felt that Mr. Dyer was impaired and due to this, we had no reason or probable cause to pursue a warrant to obtain a blood sample," the report stated.

In his statement given to investigators around 4:30 a.m., Dyer said he had approximately four beers between 7:00 p.m. and 11 p.m.

A third passenger on the bass boat, Ash Wannamaker, has filed a lawsuit against Dyer, claiming he and the others on his powerboat failed to render assistance following the crash despite pleas for help from Wannamaker and others who were in the area at the time

However, in the report, DNR officials wrote that Dyer rendered aid by recovering the passengers thrown from his boat and called 911.

"At no time did Mr. Dyer leave the scene," DNR wrote.

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