Two Vicksburg teens drownEight in boat off U.S. 80 when it capsizes

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 18, 2003

Sheriff Martin Pace, front right, and other members of the Sheriff’s Department and the Vicksburg Fire Department work to recover the bodies of two teenage drowning victims Thursday night in a pond off Elton Drive in the Ironwood neighborhood. (C. Todd ShermanThe Vicksburg Post)

[04/18/03] Two teens died Thursday night after the 10-foot boat in which they and six others were riding overturned on a small pond off U.S. 80.

Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace identified the teens as Josh Parker, 16, and Elton Williams, 14. Their bodies were recovered in water about 20 feet deep near the center of a pond off Ironwood Drive, the neighborhood where both lived.

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“It appears that eight individuals were in the boat, including one adult,” Pace said. “Just about in the middle of the pond the boat capsized, spilling all into the water. Six of the eight made it to the bank, some holding onto the capsized boat.”

Vicksburg firefighters, including seven rescue divers, responded to the pond after the accident was reported at about 5:30 p.m., Pace said. Divers recovered the bodies at 10:20 and 11:55 p.m., the sheriff said.

He said no life jackets were found in the boat or on any of its occupants.

Hope Walton, who also lives in the neighborhood of about 250 mobile homes, said Josh and Elton were well-mannered and “respectable.”

“They were best friends,” she said. “You hardly ever saw one without the other, riding bikes or whatever. They were true friends, I can say that.”

Walton was among about 50 people standing near the pond off Elton Drive as Pace, a deputy and Vicksburg Fire Department personnel used two boats in rescue efforts.

Sheriff’s department investigators were to continue their work this morning “to try to gain as much information as we can on the circumstances that led up to the capsizing,” Pace said.

Riding in the boat were one adult and seven teens, ranging in age from 13 to 16.

The adult was C.B. Stinson, 24, said his mother, Martha Deaton.

Ricky Wood, a neighbor who said he was with Elton’s father, Roosevelt Dotson, when they learned of the capsizing, said he dived for 15 or 20 minutes, trying to find the boys in the dark pond water.

A ledge about 6 feet deep extends out a few feet from the bank before the water deepens quickly, he said.

The aluminum boat was about 10 feet from the bank and upside-down when Wood arrived, ahead of the rescue workers, he said. Stinson was also trying to locate the boys, he added.

“I guess they were just fishing with the man,” Walton said of the seven teens.

Several VFD rescue divers were completing their required “annual check-off dive” at the City Pool when they received the call, said Lt. Craig Danczyk. Other divers who participated in the recovery effort, from the boat the VFD brought to the pond, were Capts. Barry Cole, Gary Rickles and Randy Rippy, Lts. Sam Brocato and Dru Randolph and firefighter Joe Graham.

Culkin Volunteer Firefighters provided support, including auxiliary lighting after dark. Pace said an agent from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks also responded.

Josh’s mother, Patricia Stewart, works as a district manager in the circulation department of The Vicksburg Post. Her husband, Michael Stewart, is a newspaper carrier.

Elton also was the son of Vivian Hyder and the stepson of Danny Hyder, said Danny Hyder.

Warren County Coroner John Thomason said autopsies would be performed on both victims to determine the cause of death.

Williams Funeral Home will handle arrangements for Elton, and Jefferson Funeral Home will handle services for Josh, Thomason said.