Incidents on SML, Drowning of Martinsville Man on Philpott Lake Kept Conservation Police Busy Over the Weekend
Franklin Co., VA - There were two accidents on the water at Smith Mountain Lake over the July 4 Holiday weekend, according to Karl Martin with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Martin said given the number of boats and people on the water over the weekend, it could have been much worse, however. On Saturday at 4 p.m. a 17-year-old who was tubing on the Franklin County side of lake near Indian Creek had to be taken to Roanoke Memorial Hospital after her tube hit a dock, Martin said. There is no word on the condition of the teen, Martin said. "The driver of the boat basically was too close to the dock," Martin said. He declined to talk about any possible charges or additional details of the accident because the accident is still under investigation. Earlier, on Friday morning, a 34-year-old woman from Maryland was injured when a wave (the wake from another boat) hit her personal watercraft, Martin said. The woman's foot was tangled up in the watercraft, Martin explained. She suffered a broken leg and a broken arm. Crews were called to that accident around 9 a.m. Friday. Martin says the woman was treated and released from Roanoke Memorial Hospital. Meanwhile, on nearby Philpott Lake, Conservation Police say a Martinsville man drowned in the waters near Fairy Stone State Park Saturday.18-year-old Kerion Jykeem Witcher's body was recovered by a nearby lifeguard. Witcher was taken to a hospital in Patrick County, but attempts to revive him were unsuccessful, Martin said. Despite the accidents, Martin said he is pleased that there were no alcohol-related accidents or arrests and citations issued due to alcohol. "We really push for people to use good judgment, no matter what" Martin explained to ABC 13. Martin says crowds for the fireworks on the lake over the weekend were in the thousands. He said there were between 2,000 and 2,500 boats on Smith Mountain Lake at one time to see the fireworks, with several thousand people watching from land. "Amazingly, there were no alcohol-related problems that night," Martin said. There were a few citations issued for reckless boating, Martin explained. Otherwise, "everything went smoothly." Martin still says the accidents on the water should serve as a warning to anyone boating or going on the water in any fashion to practice safety year-round, not just during busy periods.