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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

Boat crash victim files $5 million lawsuit

Friday, August 8, 2014

By KEN BRADLEY - Staff Writer

A fatal boat crash on Smith Mountain Lake in May has resulted in a $5 million lawsuit filed by one of the victims against the boat operator charged in the collision.

The lawsuit was filed Aug. 1 by Teddy Wolford against Gary Nichols, 42, in Franklin County Circuit Court.

Wolford, 61, of Botetourt County was injured and his friend, Timothy O'Quinn, 37, was killed.

Nichols was operating his bass boat on May 2 at about 9 p.m. when his boat struck the right side of Wolford's bass boat near Bernard's Landing.

The Nichols boat flipped on impact and threw Nichols and his wife, Crystal, 37, into the cold water.

Wolford's 14-year-old grandson rescued the couple and pulled them into his grandfather's boat.

Nichols was charged with speeding and reckless driving and is scheduled to be tried on the misdemeanor charges in September.

The lawsuit alleges that Wolford was found with "grave visible and internal injuries." But O'Quinn was nowhere to be found until 14 hours later, when Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries officers found O'Quinn's body in 90 feet of water.

The lawsuit claims that Nichols was traveling about 40 mph and "continued to speed on in the pitch dark night at a high rate of speed."

Listed in the lawsuit are injuries suffered by Wolford, including multiple open wounds of the upper forearm with tendon involvement; kidney laceration; liver laceration, septic shock; acute kidney failure; pneumonia; multiple fractures of four ribs; hypertension; contusion of abdominal wall; and anemia associated with acute blood loss.

The lawsuit states that Wolford has incurred medical bills and other expenses in excess of $500,000, is permanently disabled and will never return to work.

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