Boat Operator Arrested Following Boating Accident

The operator of a boat involved in a two-vessel collision on Cherokee Lake last Saturday was arrested and charged with Reckless Operation of a Vessel and Failure to Render Aid after fleeing the accident scene.

TWRA Wildlife Officer Chris Seay reports that on Sat., June 1 at just after 6 p.m., a pontoon boat being operated by Jaime K. Ratliff of Abingdon, VA struck another pontoon boat in the side being operated by Johnny Kilgore and occupied by his wife, Thelma Kilgore, both of Kingsport.  The Kilgore vessel was traveling toward the main channel of Cherokee Lake from Lakeside Campground when the accident occurred.  After the collision, Ratliff failed to stop and continued operating his vessel until beaching it approximately one-mile northeast of the accident scene.  Mr. Ratliff then walked back to his camper at Lawson’s Campground where TWRA officers arrested him a few hours later.

Mr. Ratliff appeared before Hawkins County General Sessions Judge Todd Ross Monday entering guilty pleas to both charges and was ordered to pay a $50 fine plus court costs for the Reckless Operation charge, and a $10 fine plus court costs for the Failure to Render Aid charge.  Judge Ross also put Mr. Ratliff on 11-months and 29-days probation and ordered him to pay restitution for damages to Mr. Kilgore’s vessel.