Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Husband Describes Fatal Boat Accident; His Wife Died When Both Thrown into the Water in Okefenokee Swamp

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Husband Describes Fatal Boat Accident; His Wife Died When Both Thrown into the Water in Okefenokee Swamp

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson

David Gerald Causey told a harrowing tale Monday of his wife's Oct. 18 death in the Okefenokee Swamp when they were both tossed from a rented jon boat.

The 73-year-old Causey said during a telephone interview with the Times-Union he had been told that an autopsy showed his wife, Ruby Kelly Causey, 77, had drowned, but he still hadn't been told about any testing of the outboard motor of the boat.

Capt. Scott Klingel of the Georgia Department of Resources Metter office said last week the boat and motor were taken out of the water and secured so that the motor could be tested.

Causey told investigators that when he started the outboard motor eight miles out in the swamp it was in gear, reared up and threw them both out. As a safety measure, boat motors will not start while in gear.

The boat continued running, began circling and ran over his wife, Causey said Monday.

"I know that motor had a malfunction in it. I don't want to sue nobody for money, but that motor started in drive," he said from his home in Efland, N.C., a small city west of Durham. He broke down several times as he spoke of his wife's death.

Causey said he and his wife, Ruby, had gone to the Coffee Bay picnic shelter, a place in the Okefenokee they had visited three to four years before. They had eaten lunch and were about to return to the boat basin at Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters when the accident occurred, he said.

Causey said the small motor's shifter was on the side, and he was sure he had put it in neutral, but that when it started "it flew off and it went straight up."

With both of them in the water, the propeller caught in his wife's shirt and stalled the motor, he said.

His wife couldn't swim and neither of them were wearing life jackets.

Treading water, he tried holding her head above water with one hand while trying to untangle her clothing from the prop with the other, Causey said.

She had the presence of mind to tell him to cut her free with his pocketknife, but soon after she told him she wasn't going to survive, he said. …

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