Just after midnight Saturday morning, a gathering among Olathe-area friends turned deadly when a boat they were riding in smashed into a rock bluff at the Lake of the Ozarks.
By 6:29 a.m., the driver, Hayden M. Frazier, a 22-year-old from Overland Park, had been arrested as an investigation began into the accident that claimed the lives of three of his friends: Joseph LeMark, 23, of Overland Park; Daniel Lewis, 24, of Overland Park; and Hailey Hochanadel, 21, of Olathe.
The fifth occupant, Ashley Lamb, 21, of Olathe, was airlifted to Mercy Hospital in Springfield in serious condition.
As investigators continued to work the crash Saturday, alumni of the Olathe school district began to hear news of the tragedy.
“Shocking news to wake up to this morning,” an Olathe East graduate posted on Facebook. “Cannot believe how many fellow Olathe East classmates I have lost since graduation.”
Frazier, who sustained moderate injuries, was arrested on suspicion of boating while intoxicated related to the death of other persons and serious physical injury, as well as negligent operation of a vessel.
He was held Saturday night at the Camden County jail. On Sunday, jail officials said he had been released. Prosecutors in Camden County, which encompasses parts of the lake area, have not said whether charges will be filed.
Olathe School District spokesperson Maggie Kolb confirmed Saturday evening that all five occupants were graduates of the Olathe School District. At least four graduated from Olathe East, according to social media accounts.
The friends were in a 1991 Regal Runabout driven by Frazier when the boat struck a bluff near the 47.5 mile marker in the main channel of the lake, according to patrol reports.
Frazier, Hochanadel and LeMark were ejected into the water.
Frazier then climbed back aboard the boat and paddled a half-mile across the channel to a dock at Simmons Point — it was not clear what he used to paddle the boat, said Sgt. Scott White, spokesman for the patrol’s Troop F, which covers the lake.
Law enforcement officials called to the area by a neighbor before 1:45 a.m. found Frazier and Lamb, White said.
“The driver was conscious,” White said. “He had communicated with officers.”
It was not clear whether Lamb was able to speak with authorities before she was taken to the hospital.
Lewis was found dead in the boat.
It wasn’t until later that morning that dragging operation crews were able to look for the other occupants at the crash site.
LeMark was pronounced dead at 8:36 a.m. when crews found his body, the report notes. Divers recovered Hochanadel’s body after 11 a.m.
Lamb appears to be a student at Kansas State University and Hochanadel was a student at the University of Missouri, according to student directories for the universities.
Hochanadel was studying English. Lamb is listed by K-State as a senior marketing major.
The two were 2015 graduates of Olathe East High School, according to their Facebook pages. Social media posts show that the pair have been close friends for years.
More than a year ago, Hochanadel commented on one of Lamb’s Facebook photos: “My bestie is so pwetty.”
Lamb responded: “Miss you.”
In the class’ Senior Edition of Hawk’s Eye news publication, Hochanadel thanked “Mrs. Earnshaw for being the most helpful English teacher ever.”
Lamb also thanked Earnshaw.
LeMark listed his employer as SpecChem, a chemical manufacturing company in Kansas City, and said he graduated from Olathe East High School in 2013. He attended the University of Kansas.
Frazier is a Kansas State University graduate who was a member of several social and honors fraternities at school, including Sigma Phi Epsilon, Phi Sigma Epsilon and Sigma Alpha Lambda.
As news of the tragedy spread on Saturday, some friends and family of the victims asked for prayers on social media.