A Wayne County grand jury has indicted an Illinois man on three felony counts stemming from a boating incident that severely injured a swimmer in Lake Cumberland Aug. 12, 2011.
James Gibson, 26, of Chicago, is charged with second-degree assault and two counts of wanton endangerment. His indictment was returned Jan. 24.
Conservation officers with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources said Gibson was operating a houseboat while intoxicated when it struck Jordan McKelvey, 25, of Fennale, Michigan. McKelvey suffered severe injuries from the propeller. Boaters were staging in the lake’s Shinbone area for the upcoming “Lake Cumberland Raft-Up” event the following day.
Conservation Officers Travis Neal and Jerrod Alley were nearby and rushed to the scene when another boater summoned their help. The officers loaded McKelvey in their boat and administered precautionary measures to stop his life-threatening bleeding. The officers transported the victim more than two miles to Conley Bottom Marina, where they were met by members of the Wayne County Emergency Medical Service. McKelvey was moved to a landing site and then taken by helicopter to the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center.
Officers say he remained at the medical center 18 days before eventually being transported to a Michigan facility for continued treatment and rehabilitation.
Officers say McKelvey and other passengers from Gibson’s houseboat were swimming near the vessel’s stern when Gibson decided to move the boat and throttled its engine in reverse. The suction pulled McKelvey into the propeller.
Officers say Gibson admitted to operating the vessel when it struck McKelvey. Witnesses supported that. Gibson agreed to give a voluntary blood sample at the time. Laboratory results indicated a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.25, more than three times the legal limit of 0.08 percent for boat operators. He was charged at the time with alcohol intoxication in a public place and paid $203 in fines and court costs.
Neal said arrest warrants on the felony charges will be issued for Gibson, who has since returned to Illinois.