Man guilty of vehicular homicide in boating accident

Published online: Nov 10, 2010 News
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A Henry County jury took less than 30 minutes to convict David Ray Phelps, of Woodlawn, Tenn., of charges stemming from a fatal boating accident on Kentucky Lake last July. 

Phelps was found guilty of vehicular homicide, aggravated assault, reckless operation of a vessel and boating under the influence (BUI). The conviction came during an Oct. 25 trial held in Paris.

A bass boat Phelps, 37, was operating, struck a pontoon boat occupied by seven family members. Sandra R. Adams, 47, was killed and her daughter, Meghan Adams, 16, was seriously injured. The pontoon boat was being operated at the time by the 11-year old son of Jeffrey Adams, who was seated beside the youth at the time of the accident. The accident occurred on the lake about a mile south of the Hwy 79 bridge.

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officers on the scene subjected Phelps to field sobriety tests, which he failed. Phelps was placed under arrest for BUI and asked to submit a blood test. A result of the blood alcohol test was .13 percent, almost twice the legal limit. Adams also submitted to a blood alcohol and drug test, both of which were returned with negative results.

During Phelps' trial, TWRA officer Brad Jackson presented an animated re-creation of the crash based upon the finding from the crime scene investigation. The court and jury were also transported to see the extent of damage to each of the boats at the location of their storage at the Henry County Fairgrounds. Expert testimony during the trial gave the opinion that Phelps' boat was traveling almost 60 mph at the time of the collision.


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