Greers Ferry Lake Boating Accident: A Tragic Reminder for Safety


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On a fateful Sunday afternoon, the serene waters of Greers Ferry Lake in Arkansas were shattered by a devastating boating accident that claimed one life and left four others injured. This tragic incident serves as a grim reminder of the paramount importance of boating safety, especially during the busy holiday weekends when the lake sees an influx of recreational activities.

In this comprehensive article, we will delve into the details of the greers ferry lake boating accident, explore the safety guidelines that every boater should adhere to, and examine the impact this event has had on the local community. By shedding light on this unfortunate occurrence, we aim to raise awareness and encourage a culture of responsible boating, ensuring that future tragedies can be prevented.

The Greers Ferry Lake Boating Accident

On the fateful afternoon of August 27, 2023, around 1:00 PM, the tranquility of Greers Ferry Lake was disrupted by a collision between a pontoon boat and a speedboat in the Sugarloaf area. The impact of the crash was severe, resulting in a total of six individuals being involved, with three occupants on each vessel.

Tragically, the greers ferry lake boating accident claimed the life of Tonya Cooper, a 46-year-old resident of Higden, Arkansas. Four other individuals sustained injuries, the extent of which is currently unknown. The individual identified as Jeremy Robert Holmes, a 48-year-old resident of Shirley, Arkansas, has been charged with multiple offenses, including negligent homicide while intoxicated, second-degree battery, boating under the influence of alcohol, and reckless and negligent boat operations.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has launched an investigation into the cause of the accident, with details still emerging as the inquiry progresses. The commission’s spokesperson, Keith Stephens, stated that the investigation is in its early stages, and they are working to determine the exact circumstances that led to this tragic event.

Charge Description
Negligent Homicide While Intoxicated Causing the death of another person due to negligent actions while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Second-Degree Battery Intentionally causing physical injury to another person.
Boating Under the Influence of Alcohol Operating a boat while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
Reckless and Negligent Boat Operations Operating a boat in a reckless or negligent manner, endangering the lives of others.

Safety Guidelines for Boating

In light of this devastating incident, it is crucial to emphasize the importance of adhering to safety guidelines while enjoying recreational activities on the water. Boating can be a delightful pastime, but it also carries inherent risks that must be taken seriously to ensure the well-being of all involved.

One of the most fundamental safety measures is being aware of your surroundings and maintaining safe distances from other boats. Collisions can occur in the blink of an eye, and staying vigilant is paramount to preventing such accidents. Captain Stephanie Weatherington, the Boating Law Administrator, emphasizes the significance of paying attention to other boats and keeping a safe distance from them.

Wearing life jackets is another critical safety precaution that cannot be overlooked. In the event of an accident, life jackets can mean the difference between life and death. Captain Weatherington stresses the importance of wearing life jackets, stating, “If you do everything wrong, if you have that life jacket, that is number one that could save your life – that’s gonna make the difference.”

Operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs is not only illegal but also incredibly dangerous. Impaired judgment and reaction times can lead to catastrophic consequences on the water. Captain Weatherington warns, “When you’re operating a boat and you’re under the influence, it becomes a very, very dangerous situation.”

Before embarking on a boating excursion, it is essential to check water levels and navigate in areas you are familiar with. Jay Townsend of the Army Corps of Engineers advises boaters to call ahead and inquire about launch ramp conditions, as low water levels can render some ramps unusable. He also recommends staying in the main channels to avoid submerged obstacles that may not be visible due to low water levels.

Heeding warnings and advisories from authorities is another crucial aspect of boating safety. Local officials and agencies often issue alerts and guidelines based on current conditions, and adhering to these advisories can help prevent accidents and ensure a safe and enjoyable experience on the water.

Additionally, it is essential to obey boating laws and regulations, which are designed to protect both boaters and the environment. Maintaining proper safety equipment on board, safely loading and balancing boats, and taking boating safety courses are all vital components of responsible boating practices.

Safety Guideline Description
Awareness of Surroundings Maintaining situational awareness and keeping a safe distance from other boats.
Wearing Life Jackets Ensuring that all occupants are wearing properly fitted life jackets at all times.
Avoiding Impaired Operation Refraining from operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Checking Water Levels Being aware of current water levels and navigating familiar areas.
Heeding Warnings and Advisories Following guidance and advisories issued by authorities regarding boating conditions.
Obeying Laws and Regulations Complying with all applicable boating laws and regulations.
Maintaining Safety Equipment Ensuring that the boat is equipped with all necessary safety equipment.
Safe Loading and Balancing Properly loading and distributing weight in the boat for optimal stability.
Taking Safety Courses Participating in boating safety courses to gain knowledge and skills.

Impact on the Community

The tragic Greers Ferry Lake boating accident on Greers Ferry Lake has sent shockwaves through the local community, prompting reactions from authorities and officials. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the Army Corps of Engineers have expressed their condolences and urged boaters to prioritize safety measures while enjoying the lake.

In the wake of this incident, there have been calls for increased safety awareness from officials. Captain Weatherington and other representatives have emphasized the importance of following safety protocols and exercising caution on the water, especially during busy holiday weekends.

The accident has also sparked discussions about potential changes or stricter enforcement of boating laws and regulations. Local authorities may consider implementing additional measures or heightened patrols to ensure the safety of boaters and prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

The loss of Tonya Cooper has deeply affected her family, friends, and the broader community. Outpourings of grief and support have been extended to her loved ones, as they grapple with this devastating tragedy. The greers ferry lake boating accident has underscored the fragility of life and the need for collective responsibility when engaging in recreational activities on the water.

Furthermore, the incident has cast a shadow over the local tourism and recreation industry around Greers Ferry Lake. As a popular destination for boating, fishing, and other water-based activities, the lake plays a vital role in the region’s economy. Authorities and businesses may need to collaborate to address any potential negative impacts on tourism and ensure that the area remains a safe and attractive destination for visitors.

In response to this tragedy, initiatives or campaigns aimed at promoting boating safety in the area may be launched. These efforts could include educational programs, increased signage, or community outreach events to raise awareness and foster a culture of responsible boating practices.


The Greers Ferry Lake Boating Accident on Greers Ferry Lake serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of prioritizing safety on the water. The loss of Tonya Cooper’s life and the injuries sustained by others is a stark testament to the potential consequences of negligent behavior and disregard for safety protocols.

As we reflect on this tragic incident, it is imperative that we, as a community, take boating safety seriously. Whether you are an experienced boater or a novice, adhering to safety guidelines, obeying laws and regulations, and exercising responsible behavior on the water should be non-negotiable.

Encourage friends, family, and fellow boaters to adopt a responsible attitude towards boating. Promote the use of life jackets, discourage impaired operation, and advocate for taking boating safety courses. By fostering a culture of safety and accountability, we can work towards preventing future tragedies and preserving the joy of recreational boating.

For those seeking more information or resources related to boating safety, organizations such as the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary offer valuable educational materials and courses. Empower yourself with knowledge and skills to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience on the water.

Let us honor the memory of Tonya Cooper and the profound loss her loved ones have endured by taking action. Join the collective effort to promote a safe boating culture, one that prioritizes responsible behavior, adherence to regulations, and a deep respect for the inherent risks associated with recreational activities on the water.


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