Coast Guard Searches for Missing Boater in South Carolina

CHARLESTON, S.C. – Federal, State and local agencies responded to a boating accident that left one person dead and another injured at the Rice Hope Landing in Berkeley County, S.C., at 1:45 p.m.

A 14-foot johnboat and a larger bass boat collided on the Cooper River just before 1:45 p.m. Two passengers in the johnboat were ejected in to the water. The bass boat was launched into a nearby marsh.

“I heard the bang and saw the bass boat go about seven- to-ten feet in the air and land in a marsh,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Rob Harlacher, an off-duty member of the Coast Guard who happened to be fishing nearby. “I dropped my fishing pole and got over there as quickly as I could.”

One of the passengers ejected from the johnboat was spotted immediately following the accident. The master of the bass boat was able to swim to her aid and keep her from going underwater.

Harlacher and another Good Samaritan fishing nearby pulled the two from the water.

“As soon as we pulled her out of the water, she was screaming for her loved one. I knew we still had someone missing,” said Harlacher.

Harlacher called the Coast Guard Sector Charleston Command Center. Coast Guard rescue coordinators launched a rescue helicopter from Coast Guard Air Facility Charleston and a rescue boat crew from Coast Guard Station Charleston.

The male had gone underwater and did not resurface. Off-duty members of the Berkeley County Fire Department were boating nearby and immediately called the Berkeley County EMT, Fire, and Dive Team.

The survivor was provided some medical attention and taken to Trident Medical in Charleston, S.C.

Shortly after arriving on-scene, the Berkeley County Dive Team recovered the male that had been ejected. The 27-year-old male was unresponsive to CPR at the time.

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources will conduct an investigation of the collision.

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