High speed led to May triple fatality boat crash on Lake of the Ozarks, report says
Excessive speed led to a May boat crash on Lake of the Ozarks that killed three Johnson County residents, according to a recently released Missouri Highway Patrol report.
More than three months after the incident in Camden County, the patrol released the crash reconstruction report, which provided more details from those early morning hours on May 19.
Along with speed, “nighttime conditions” were a factor in the triple fatality wreck that reportedly happened just after midnight, the report said. Two people on the boat were injured but survived.
“This crash occurred as the result of (the boat) being operated at a speed that was too fast for the conditions,” the report said. “During low visibility nighttime conditions, without any navigation aids, such as a chart plotter or GPS unit.”
But the crash reconstruction report isn’t the final word on what happened that night and why.
Toxicology and autopsy reports have not yet been released, and the marine accident investigation report won’t be finalized until all information is in, said Sgt. Scott White, a patrol spokesman with Troop F, which includes the Lake of the Ozarks.
“They are still reviewing evidence at the crime lab,” White said.
Killed in the crash were Joseph LeMark, 23, and Daniel Lewis, 24, both of Overland Park, along with Hailey Hochanadel, 21, of Olathe.
Hayden Frazier, 22, of Overland Park, and Ashley Lamb, 21, of Olathe, were injured. All five had gone to Olathe district high schools.
According to the crash reconstruction report, which The Star requested from the patrol in May, the boat belonged to Frazier.
Evidence from the scene indicated that Lewis was driving the 1991 Regal Runabout when it struck a rock bluff at the 47.5 mile marker on the Osage Arm of the lake, the report said.
Initial confusion about who was driving the boat when it crashed is captured on audio recordings from that night, which The Star also obtained from the patrol. Frazier reportedly gave different statements about the wreck.
“First he was the driver, now he’s not the driver,” a responder at the scene can be heard saying on the recording.
At another time, Frazier can be heard saying that “Danny” was driving.
Also on the recording, a responder referred to information Frazier provided: “He said the boat hit something. The whole bow of the boat is basically caved in, looks like he hit a bluff.”
Hochanadel and LeMark were ejected and their bodies later located in 12 feet of water. Lewis’ body was found on the boat.
Frazier, who also was ejected, was able to get back in the boat and paddled a half-mile across the channel to get help, the patrol has said. According to the reconstruction report, Frazier, who was treated for moderate injuries after the crash, spoke with the first trooper on the scene.
According to the report, he told that trooper: “I don’t remember anything about the crash. I am trying to remember, but it’s just a blank.”
Several hours after the crash, Frazier was arrested on suspicion of boating while intoxicated involving the death of another and serious physical injury, and negligent operation of a vessel. He was booked into the Camden County jail.
But after further investigation, the patrol changed its initial report about 10 days later and said Frazier wasn’t driving. The Camden County Prosecutor’s office said at that time that no charges would be filed.
Lamb, who was found in the boat, was airlifted to a hospital. She suffered critical injuries and was in intensive care after the crash. She has been recovering in the months since.
Rich Hochanadel, Hailey’s father, said Monday that he is expecting more information from further reports to be released soon.
“I think in the next couple of weeks we will know more of a full story of what happened,” Rich Hochanadel said.
Earlier this month, his daughter’s Gamma Phi Beta sorority at the University of Missouri in Columbia held a memorial service in Hailey’s honor.
Lamb was at the service.
Rich Hochanadel said it was good to see Lamb, who was his daughter’s best friend of many years.
“Ashley is doing better,” he said.
Rich Hochanadel said he still has many questions about the night of the crash and is waiting for reports to fill in some of the blanks.
What he knows is that his daughter, whom he said was a “straight-A student,” missed out on her senior year of college. Last week in the mail he received his daughter’s honorary degree from MU.
“She was close to earning it,” he said. “But had one more year.”