Bystanders helped get 15-year-old boating accident victim to safety

A jetski towing a tube with two passengers struck a dock last Saturday

By Rob Manch - Reporter

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. - A 15-year-old girl was still in the hospital Wednesday evening following a boating accident on Smith Mountain Lake this past Saturday, but WSLS has learned that she may not have even made it there had it not been for the heroic actions of several bystanders.

Cheryl Cockram says even before the accident, she and her friends knew something was wrong.

"We happened to notice a jetski pulling a tube, and we all made the comment to ourselves that, man they're really driving too close to the dock," said Cockram.

She says it was only seconds before the scene turned into disaster.

"We immediately heard screams coming from the people that were obviously in the accident, and so I dropped my stuff and I took off running," said Cockram.

Cockram says she was the first to the scene, and the girl was unconscious.

"I grabbed her instantly and pulled her over to the lake shore," said Cockram.

Cockram is a former lifeguard and is trained in CPR. From there, the Cool Branch Volunteer Rescue Squad and Smith Mountain Lake Marine Fire and Rescue responded. Even a doctor on his own personal jet-ski rode across the lake to help.

"The bystanders that had first-aid training and everything, and even the people from their homes were helping us carry stuff down to help them, they were a tremendous help," said Tiffany Matherly, with the Cool Branch Volunteer Rescue Squad.

The girl was air-lifted from the scene in a matter of minutes. In addition, a 12-year-old boy was also treated on scene for injuries. Cockram says, she's just glad she was there to help.

"I don't think the frightening part came to me until after the fact, then I realized wow, we actually really just saved her life," said Cockram.

The latest information from investigators with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is that the condition of the 15-year-old girl is improving, but she is still in the hospital. Meanwhile, the driver of the jet-ski is facing two charges in relation to the incident. Donald Mundy now has pending charges for the reckless operation of a water craft, and exceeding the passenger limit of a water craft.

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