TWRA Issues News Release About Fatal Boating Accident on Center Hill Lake

July 25, 2008

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is continuing the investigation of a boating accident that occurred on Center Hill Lake, Friday, July 18, which involved two boats and resulted in a fatality and injuries to 3 persons aboard one vessel, and one injury to a person in the second vessel. The incident took place on Center Hill Lake near Edgar Evins State Park Marina. Center Hill Lake is located approximately 60 miles east of Nashville.

The initial investigation indicates that one of the vessels, occupied by four persons including Tamera Coombs, age 44, who was killed in the accident, is registered to Thomas Coombs of Pleasant View, Tennessee. The second vessel, with 3 persons on board, is registered to Stephen Maggart of Brentwood, Tennessee.

TWRA officers were dispatched to the scene of the collision around 9:05 PM and were the first officials to arrive. Mrs. Coombs was apparently ejected from the vessel and was recovered from the water a short time later by TWRA officers. The TWRA impounded both vessels and will hold them until the investigation is completed.

Tony Cross, a TWRA officer who routinely patrols Center Hill Lake, was one of the first officers to arrive at the Coombs’ boat. “Our first priority was to assist the injured parties and to secure the scene so that we could preserve any evidence that would help in re-creating the moments immediately before the collision”, Cross said. “We impounded the boats and began taking statements from those involved and will continue to piece together all the information as the investigation goes forward”, he said.

TWRA Boating Investigator, Glenn Moates said that it will be several weeks before all the information is assimilated. “It takes time to complete all the interviews with victims and witnesses, and we will thoroughly examine both boats” Moates stated. “We have also submitted items to the TBI crime lab for analysis, and the results of those samples will be a significant help in completing our reconstruction of the accident and any factors which may have contributed to its occurrence”, he stated.

TWRA procedure, as well as state law, requires that officers collect blood samples from the operators of both boats to determine if alcohol use was a factor. Procedure also calls for TWRA officers to present all the evidence to the Assistant District Attorney before going forward with any possible criminal charges. “It is standard to examine the blood alcohol levels of the operators, assess whether or not navigation laws were violated, and to examine all physical evidence, including the damage to each vessel”, Moates said.

TWRA boating investigators have received extensive training from a variety of sources including Underwriter’s Laboratories, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, the International Association of Marine Investigators, and the National Transportation Safety Board.

Anyone with any information regarding the incident is asked to please contact the TWRA. Glenn Moates, Boating Investigator will serve as the Agency contact until the investigation is completed. Investigator Moates can be reached at 615-781-5271 (office), 615-351-6069 (mobile), or by e-mail at glenn.moates@state.tn.us.

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