Deadly Rappahannock boat accident details emerge

Facebook photo: Amanda Brady and Patrick Nixon
Facebook photo: Amanda Brady and Patrick Nixon

By Gene Petriello - bio | email
Posted by Phil Riggan – email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The man behind the wheel of a speed boat involved in a deadly accident on the Rappahannock River is now out of the hospital.

Investigators with the Virginia Marine Police are combing through the wrecked boat to figure out why Richmond Fire Captain Steve Nixon -- who was at the helm at the time of the accident -- crashed into a huge steel channel marker in the middle of the Rappahannock.

The accident killed Henrico school teacher Amanda Brady, 25, and injured nine others, including four children.

Investigators are looking into every piece of equipment on the 22-foot speed boat to see if anything malfunctioned. They are also checking to see if there was a working spotlight and identifying the point of impact, among other things.

Investigators say the boat was going about 35 miles per hour when it crashed. The boat was headed to a house the group was renting near Belle Isle State Park on the Lancaster County side of the Rappahannock at the time of the crash, according to the Virginia Marine Police investigating the accident.

We are learning more about the events that led up to the deadly accident. Investigators say a group of 12 people had dinner that night at Charlie's Tiki Bar and Grill in Lancaster County. The owner says they were at the restaurant for about four hours.

"They were pretty normal," said Charlie Francis. "Not any excessive alcohol consumption as far as our receipts. It was more food."

It's those receipts that investigators are working to get their hands on today.

"They were paying corn hole. Having fun with the kids enjoying the day," he said.

After that, investigators say they dropped off  two children at Grey's Pointe Campgrounds before heading up river and eventually crashing into the marker.

Investigators say that marker was flashing red every four seconds. And it was a marker they believe the group should have seen miles away on the river.

But for some reason, driver Steve Nixon didn't see it. And the accident killed Brady, who was on the boat with her fiancé, Patrick Nixon, Steve's younger brother.

Her body was found 10 hours after the crash. The medical examiner said Brady drowned. She was a 5th grade teacher at Longan Elementary School and a Glen Allen resident.

Authorities said many of the boat passengers were family members and others were friends of the family. All the passengers are from the Richmond area.

Investigators don't know if alcohol was a factor in the crash.

A blood alcohol test was given to Steve Nixon and a lab is testing it right now. The investigation should be handed over to the Commonwealth Attorney within the next two weeks.

The man investigators believe was at the helm of the speed boat at the time of the crash, Steve Nixon, was released from the VCU Medical Center Tuesday night. His wife, Angela, is still at VCU listed in stable condition.

Zach Nixon, Steve's 11-year-old son, is still at VCU and his condition was not released at the request of the family. Chris Carnes, Steve's 29-year-old cousin, is also still at VCU and his condition was not released at request of family.

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