October 21, 2020

Alabama father, son killed in boating accident

Courtesy of Vanessa Sorrell Burnside and The Randolph Leader

(Cleburne County, AL) — Randolph County Rescue Squad assisted in the recovery of two drowning victims following a kayak accident on Sunday afternoon on the Tallapoosa River in Cleburne County.

According to ALEA, a single-vessel incident at 5:30 p.m. claimed two lives. Jason Smith, 34, of Heflin and his 3- and 4-year-old sons went into the Tallapoosa River from a kayak that Smith was operating.

The bodies of Smith and his 3-year-old son, who were not wearing personal flotation devices, were recovered on Monday in the area where they entered the water.

According to reports, the father had grabbed a tree limb when the water sped up, trying to keep the kayak from flipping over.

The 4-year-old son was not injured. He was rescued by his 12-year-old brother who had been in a separate kayak.

Because Cleburne County does not have water recovery equipment, Randolph County Rescue Squad was asked to assist at around 7:45 p.m. Sunday by Cleburne County 911, Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office and Cleburne Search and Rescue.

Eleven volunteers, including divers, brought boats, lights and dragging equipment. The water was rough when they arrived, but the divers began checking the banks. The search was called off for the night at about 1 a.m.

Eleven volunteers returned Monday when both bodies were recovered near an area where a paddle had been found the evening before.

Also assisting were Hollis Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department, Cleburne County Coroner, Carroll County divers, Clay County Rescue Squad, ALEA helicopter, Marine Police, Department of Conservation and Cleburne EMS.

Nothing further is available as Alabama State Troopers with the Marine Patrol Division continue to investigate.

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