The dock at Shoal Creek the night of the crash

KILLEN– A lawsuit was filed Thursday morning against the owner and the operator of a boat that was involved in the June 8 crash that killed a mother and her daughter on Shoal Creek.
The suit is filed in Colbert County Circuit Court by Jason Cowart, as surviving parent and administrator of the estate of Blakely Cowart, and by Elizabeth Livingston, surviving parent and administrator of the estate of Lauren Cowart. Augusta, Georgia, attorney A. Dixon Revell is the attorney for the plaintiffs.

The Cowarts were killed in the June 8 crash.
The defendants are listed as Ross Newton Wooten III, Susan Borden, as well as 10 John/Jane Does, numbered 1-10. It identifies Wooten as the boat’s operator on the night of the crash and Borden as its owner.
It claims Wooten operated the boat negligently and/or recklessly by having improper lighting, going too fast, not following Alabama water traffic “Rules of the Road” and being under the influence of alcohol.
It demands judgment against the defendants jointly and individually “for both compensatory and punitive damages in an amount to be determined by a jury, together with interest with the costs of this proceeding.”
The suit adds that the plaintiffs intend “to name as additional defendants any other persons or entities whose negligent acts and omissions, including, but not limited to, negligently furnishing alcohol to the Defendant Wooten while he was in a noticeably intoxicated condition and with actual knowledge he would be operating a watercraft, caused or contributed to the deaths of Lauren and/or Blakely Cowart. The John/Jane Doe 1-10 Defendants are the presently unknown individuals and entities whose negligent acts or omissions caused or contributed to the deaths of Lauren and/or Blakely Cowart and damages alleged herein.”
It alleges that Lauren and Blakely Cowart and Wooten traveled from the Augusta, Georgia, home Cowart and Wooten shared to Borden’s home on Wilson Lake in Muscle Shoals. Borden is Wooten’s mother. Cowart and Wooten were in a relationship at the time.
In September, a Lauderdale County grand jury charged Wooten with two counts of manslaughter, Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly said.
Borden owned a 19-foot 2005 Glastron run-a-bout boat that she docked at her house and gave Wooten permission on June 8 to operate the boat, and the Cowart’s to ride in it, to travel from her home to a relative’s engagement party.
“Prior to and/or during the engagement party, Wooten consumed alcoholic beverages to the point that he was intoxicated,” the suit alleges. “Upon conclusion of the engagement party at approximately 10:15 pm, Borden
negligently entrusted Wooten to board her boat and operate the vessel back to her home with Lauren, Blakely, and Wooten’s minor son onboard, despite knowing that Wooten had consumed alcohol to the point that he was intoxicated.”
In addition, Alabama boating safety regulations for nighttime operation require red and green sidelights on the bow of the boat and an all-around white light on the stern, the suit states.
“The all-around white light on Wooten’s boat was affixed to a metal pole that was stored in the engine compartment. During nighttime operation, the metal pole should have been inserted into a mounting socket and powered. Wooten never took the light out of the engine compartment and was, therefore, operating the boat at nighttime without the required all-around white light on the stern. This failure caused difficulty for other boaters on the water to see and appreciate Wooten’s boat,” it states.
In addition, he was going at a high rate of speed, according to the suit, which states he was traveling 20-25 mph.
While they were traveling, Mark McBryer, who was traveling in the other direction in a 31-foot Sea Ray cabin cruiser traveling 6-8 mph, according to the suit.
“For reasons that cannot be explained, Wooten suddenly turned his boat directly into the path of McBryer’s boat, causing a violent, head-on, and unexpected collision between the two boats,” it states. “Subsequent investigation revealed that Wooten was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the collision with a blood alcohol content of at least .121 g/100mL.”

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