Henrico woman dies in Rappahannock boating accident

By Gene Petriello - bio | email

MIDDLESEX, VA (WWBT) - A boating accident in the Rappahannock River takes the life of a Henrico County woman and injures nine other people from the same extended family.

That speed boat, a yellow 2005 Chaparral, was riding with several children and adults on board at about 35 mph in the middle of the mile and a half wide Rappahannock when investigators say it slammed into a 15 to 20 foot high channel marker some time after 10 p.m. Monday evening.

Police said the boat was driven by Steve Nixon, 38, of Montpelier, a captain with the Richmond Fire Department.

"The rescue efforts were heroic to get these people out of the water," said John Bull with the Virginia Marine Police, "The Coast Guard brought in a helicopter and airlifted an 11 year old boy from the middle of the river."

That boy and eight others were injured in the accident, some seriously. Amanda Brady, 25, was killed. Her body was found 10 hours after the crash. Brady was engaged to Nixon's brother, 26-year-old Patrick Nixon, of Glen Allen, who was on the boat.  She was a 5th grade teacher at Longan Middle School.

Ron Biddle rides along the same stretch of the Rappahannock where the accident happened.

"At night, it's a whole another world out there," he said. "It's tough. You are looking for something. GPS helps, but sometimes you won't know and all the sudden there it is, see it flashing."

Investigators say the marker was flashing red at the time of the crash.

"Bad things can happen in an instant," Bull said. "Be prepared and always plan for the worst."

Virginia Marine Police investigators did find evidence of alcohol.

"There were empty beer cans found and evidence this extended family was drinking at a bar down river," Bull said.

Investigators say the group was heading to Belle Isle State Park's campground before the accident.

"Apparently there are other markers they went through down river without a problem," Bull said. "But this particular one, they couldn't have hit more dead on."

The river is up to 64 feet deep and one to one and a half miles wide where the accident happened.

"At night, take caution we don't like to be out at night," Bull said.

And on this night, a family torn apart. At three different hospitals and a funeral to plan.

Virginia Marine Police say there were enough life vests for everyone on board and children under the age of 13 were wearing one.

Right now the boat is under investigation and will remain that way at least the rest of the week. Then it will be forwarded to the Commonwealth Attorney's office for any potential charges to be filed.

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