Two People Charged After Fatal Boat Collision

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The drivers of two boats involved in a deadly collision on the Des Moines River were charged Monday with boating while intoxicated, authorities said.

Steven Mayo, 54, and Tony Starrett, 46, both of Des Moines, were operating boats that collided Sunday evening, said Kevin Baskins of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, which is handling the investigation.

Starrett's brother, Kelly Starrett, 49, of West Des Moines, died in the crash, in which two others received minor injuries.

"The two boats were coming toward each other, and the one swerved, and then the other one, for whatever reason, swerved in the same direction and T-boned him," Baskins said.

One boat capsized as a result of the crash, while the other boat safely docked at a boathouse. Two people from each boat were thrown in the water but were rescued quickly by others in the area, Baskins said. Investigators were still trying to determine how many people were on each boat.

"Part of the problem is the only two people involved with it that our officers have had a chance to interview were the two operators," Baskins said. "There's at least a-half dozen witnesses that they have to talk to try and get an idea of what happened."

The accident happened about 7 p.m. The sun hadn't yet set, so darkness wasn't a factor, Baskins said. Investigators were trying to determine whether speed was involved.

The accident happened in a river channel upstream from Birdland Marina on Des Moines' north side. There is a bend in the river in the area, but Baskins didn't know whether the accident happened near the bend or where the river is straight.

Baskins was also checking on the type of boats involved in the accident.

Several witnesses reported hearing a loud boom and looking up to see bodies flying through the air, The Des Moines Register reported.

Baskins said Mayo and Tony Starrett were arrested early Monday.

It was unclear whether they have lawyers. Online court records don't list the case yet. Messages left by The Associated Press at telephone numbers for the men at mid-day on Monday were not returned.

Last year, the Iowa Legislature reduced the legal blood-alcohol limit for boaters from 0.10 to 0.08, making the threshold consistent with the legal limit for highway drivers.

Under the law, a first-offense boating while intoxicated charge is a serious misdemeanor and can result in a jail sentence of at least two days, a fine of up to $1,000 and loss of boat operating privileges for one year.

A late-night boat collision on May 19 killed four people along the Mississippi River near Burlington. The crash involved two small fishing boats that were shuttling partiers to shore. Des Moines County Sheriff Mike Johnstone said alcohol was served at the party, and investigators were trying to determine whether it was a factor in the crash. The sheriff's office said Monday the investigation continues and no charges have been filed.
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