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One dead in boating accident on Ky. River

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By Kristin Beck

A Bedford man is dead after a boating accident near Lock No. 1 on the Kentucky River Thursday night May 27.

Jeffrey A. O’Neal, 27, from Bedford was pronounced dead by Carroll County Coroner David Wilhoite at Carroll County Memorial Hospital. He and Neal Smith, 26, also from Bedford were transported to the hospital after their boat took on water and could not get away from the dam, according to Wilhoite. Smith was treated and released the night of the accident.

The original call was dispatched at 7:35 p.m., advising that a boat was hung up on the dam, Wilhoite said. Carroll County Sheriff’s Deputy J.T. Shaw and Carrollton Police Officers Tim Gividen and Justin Doll responded to the scene and advised that two people were in the water.

Wilhoite said the two individuals were attempting to fish for baitfish around the dam area when their boat took on water and was held up by the dam. Lt. Greg Davis from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, the lead investigators in the case, said the high water levels were not a factor in the accident. At this point, alcohol also does not appear to have been a factor, he said.

When asked if the individuals had a license to fish in the area, Davis said they had just arrived at the location when their boat capsized.

Carroll County Rescue Squad retrieved O’Neal from the water about 100 yards from the dam, and Smith was able to swim to shore. Carroll County EMS performed life saving techniques on O’Neal at the scene, who spent about 20-25 minutes in the water, Wilhoite said. While both individuals were wearing life jackets when they entered the water, O’Neal was not wearing one when he was rescued, he said.

There will be no definite cause of death until the victim is transferred to the Louisville Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy. However, Wilhoite said preliminary indications are that the cause was drowning. A final report will be available in six to eight weeks.

Director of Emergency Management Ed Webb said Gene and Sons recovered the boat, and the operation ended at around 2 a.m. Friday.

The following agencies were on the scene, according to Webb: Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, Carrollton Police Department, General Butler State Resort Park Ranger, Carroll County EMS, Carroll County Rescue Squad and Carroll County Emergency Management.