Woman denied bond after 2 boys die in Lake Hartwell boat mishap - FOX Carolina 21

Woman denied bond after 2 boys die in Lake Hartwell boat accident

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Dawn Thompson (Source: Anderson Co. Detention Center) Dawn Thompson (Source: Anderson Co. Detention Center)
Dive team responds to boat capsizing on Lake Hartwell. (Aug. 31, 2014/FOX Carolina) Dive team responds to boat capsizing on Lake Hartwell. (Aug. 31, 2014/FOX Carolina)
Thompson was denied bond on Monday. (Sept. 1, 2014/FOX Carolina) Thompson was denied bond on Monday. (Sept. 1, 2014/FOX Carolina)
The boat is pulled out of the water. (Sept. 1, 2014/FOX Carolina) The boat is pulled out of the water. (Sept. 1, 2014/FOX Carolina)
Dive team responds to boat capsizing on Lake Hartwell. (Aug. 31, 2014/FOX Carolina) Dive team responds to boat capsizing on Lake Hartwell. (Aug. 31, 2014/FOX Carolina)
TOWNVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Authorities have charged a woman they said was operating a boat that capsized leading to the deaths of a 9-year-old boy and 5-month-old boy on Lake Hartwell on Sunday night.

Robert McCullough with the Department of Natural Resources said the tritoon boat was headed back to its dock near Hudgens Lake Road in the Townville area about 9 p.m. when the boat capsized, not too far away.

As the boys were thrown into the water, the 9-year-old was rescued and flown to the hospital, where the Anderson County coroner said he died just before 10 p.m.

Anderson County Sheriff's Office Spokeswoman Sheila Cole said a helicopter and dive team were dispatched to the lake to search for the missing baby boy. Anderson County Sheriff John Skipper said the 5-month-old was found after midnight in about 20 feet of water.

McCullough said Dawn Thompson, 52, was operating the boat and responsible for everyone onboard - five children and seven adults total. He said Thompson refused field sobriety and breathalyser tests, requiring the DNR to get warrants to take blood which was sent to SLED for analysis.

Thompson was charged with two counts of driving under the influence with a water vehicle resulting in death, according to McCullough.

She was denied bond when she went before a bond court judge on Monday afternoon.

In court, Thompson was heard saying "I love them children like my own" and claiming the incident was an accident.

"I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry," Thompson said during her bond hearing. "It was an accident, a terrible accident."

McCullough said the 9-year-old boy was wearing a life jacket but the baby was found without one. 

Deputy Coroner Charlie Boseman identified the boys as 9-year-old Christian Henderson of Piedmont and the baby was Timothy Blayne Dragoo of Greer.

The baby's father said he was on the boat with Blayne's mom who was holding the baby when the boat capsized. At some point when they were trying to hold him, the life jacket the baby was wearing slipped off.

Boseman said both boys drowned.

According to Boseman, both boys' moms were also onboard the boat with other friends.

DNR Lt. DJ Riley said the boat was a 19-foot tritoon, deck-style boat. He said by law, life jackets are only required for children 12 years or younger on boats less than 16-feet-long, so technically no one was required to have on a life jacket though everyone is urged to at all times.

DNR agents were back out on the scene on Monday morning investigating the accident and pulled the boat out of the water, but do not know yet what happened. DNR said they do not know what the capacity of the boat was at this point but are looking into it. But Boseman said some witnesses thought too many people were onboard.

"Some of the witnesses stated they didn't realize until they were wet what had happened," Riley said.

McCullough said they will try to reconstruct the accident but because everything was in the water, it is difficult as the evidence shifts around and it may take a while to determine what happened to the boat to cause it to capsize. The boat was taken to DNR headquarters as the investigation continues.

Residents said the area is called Apple Island and is a part of Lake Hartwell. One neighbor said they have lived there for more than 47 years and have never heard of a drowning in the area.

The Department of Natural Resources and Anderson County Technical Rescue also assisted at the scene on Sunday night. DNR is handling the investigation. 

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