The investigation of the boating accident that claimed the life of Richard Drew Combee of McAlpin has been completed, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officials.
Combee, 20, was killed in the accident that occurred June 22 on the Suwannee River approximately 200 yards upstream from 90th Street on the Lafayette County side.
According to FWC Investigator Neil Martin, charges have been filed against Mathew J. Alford, 18, of Live Oak, the operator of the vessel. These charges include boating under the influence (BUI) manslaughter; false report to a law enforcement officer; possession of alcoholic beverages by persons under the age of 21; tampering with evidence; witness harassment; and, witness tampering.
Martin said, "The vessel, a 20-foot Monterey, was traveling upstream at approximately 35-40 miles per hour. The boat made a sudden course change, causing the vessel to swing around sharply. Combee was ejected from the vessel."
The boat stopped suddenly, throwing the other occupants of the vessel -- Alford, Kendra L. Colvin, 18, Robert C. Thon, 20, both from Live Oak, and a juvenile, from Valdosta, Ga., -- to the vessel's deck, according to the report from FWC.
"Attempts by the vessel's occupants to locate Combee were unsuccessful. Alcohol was a factor in the accident," Martin explained.
When the responding FWC officer arrived at the scene, Thon was identified as the operator. He was given a field sobriety test and it was determined that he was not under the influence.
Martin found no evidence on the exterior of the hull of that boat that would indicate any impact with any objects.
Combee was found June 24 approximately 700 yards downstream from the accident scene. He had sustained massive trauma to his head. The cause of death was determined to be from drowning.
"After the initial investigation, formal interviews were conducted with Thon, Colvin and the juvenile who identified Alford as the operator," the FWC investigator said.
Investigators were never given access to interview Alford.
According to Karen Parker a spokeswoman for FWC, Alford and his attorney did not respond to requests to meet with investigators to answer questions about the happenings on the day of the accident.
Charges on Alford were filed Sept. 25 by the State Attorney's office in Live Oak. Alford was arrested on a Lafayette County warrant in Suwannee County on September 26. Bond was set at $10,000. The subject bonded out through A-1 Bail Bonds the same day of the arrest.
Combee graduated from Branford High School with the class of 2002.
He was employed on the family farm at the time of his death.
A spokesperson from the office of Lafayette County Judge Harlow Land Jr. told the News Monday afternoon, a plea date has not been set.