WESTON, W.Va. — A family member of a woman killed in a Fourth of July tubing accident at Stonewall Jackson Lake in Lewis County says he wants the boat driver charged with her death to face serious punishment.
Patrick Carr told MetroNews Tuesday his niece, Sarah Hutchinson, died when the tube she was riding on collided with a rock wall. She was 29 years old and a student at Alderson Broaddus University.
“It was a horrific situation,” Carr said.
Tyson Bubnar, a professor at the university, was driving the boat. He was in Lewis County Magistrate Court Tuesday for a pretrial hearing. His trial is scheduled Jan. 12.
State Division of Natural Resources Police previously charged Bubnar with five misdemeanors including negligent homicide and reckless operation of a vessel. The negligent homicide charge carries up to a one year prison and a fine of $100 to $1,000.
DNR Police Officer Seth Rader said Bubnar was charged in October following a lengthy investigation.
“The operator got too close to the bank and when he tried to correct he slung the tube into a rock on the bank,” Rader told MetroNews Tuesday.
Rader said Hutchinson died at the scene.
Carr said Bubnar deserves prison time.
“Incarceration is for people that do things purposefully like this man did in causing the death of another. Probation is not for someone who causes someone else to die,” he said.
Hutchinson, of New Albany, Indiana, was riding on the tub with her two friends. Kayla Sands, of Denver, Colorado and Megan Wade, of St. Louis, Missouri, were injured. None of the women were wearing life jackets at the time.
Rader said Hutchinson died at the scene while Sands and Wade were both hospitalized for several weeks. He said one of them was on life support for a time. Both are now recovering at home.
Carr said Bubnar was driving reckless on purpose.
“You can’t say this was an accident. An accident is when you drop a glass of milk on the kitchen floor. That’s an accident. This is crash. Solely and independently, he caused this crash in the death of another person,” Carr said.
Carr is a law enforcement officer in another state and said he hears of tragic situations like this all the time, but the death of his niece hits close to home.
“Being in a position where I’m leading an agency, I would tell my officers the same thing. This is someone’s family member and someone has died,” he said.
At the time of the accident, Alderson Broaddus University released the following statement:
“The AB campus community is deeply saddened to learn of one of our alumna and student Sarah Hutchinson’s passing. Our entire campus community grieves this loss, and we extend our deepest condolences to the families and hold them in our prayers.”
Bubnar is currently listed as a assistant professor of physician assistant studies, according to the university’s website. He remains free on bond.