Dexter man charged in deadly river accident

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. — A Dexter man is free on bond after being charged Friday with five counts of boating while intoxicated in connection with a June boat collision on Black River that left a local teenager dead and four others injured.

Braden Parker Bollinger, 27, was charged with the Class C felony of boating while intoxicated (BWI-death of another), two Class D felonies of BWI (serious physical injury) and two Class E felonies of BWI (physical injury) by Butler County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Paul Oesterreicher.

Bollinger turned himself in at the Butler County jail at 3 p.m. Friday and was released on bond 37 minutes later, according to jail personnel. Bollinger’s bond had been set at $100,000 cash or surety.

The charges against Bollinger stem from a June 3 crash on Black River that killed Cali Murphy, 16, of Poplar Bluff while Kirk Murphy, 35, and Shannon Sisson, 32, both of Poplar Bluff, suffered serious physical injuries.

Also injured were Matthew Rushin, 33, of Poplar Bluff and Brady Smyth, 50, of Dexter.

Bollinger also was injured seriously in the crash.

The compliant filed by Oesterreicher alleges Bollinger negligently operated his boat by driving carelessly and at high rates of speed while under the influence of alcohol, and his boat collided with another boat.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the crash occurred at about 7:25 p.m. June 3.

Patrol Cpl. J.T. Wilson wrote in his probable-cause statement that the crash occurred on Black River, about one mile upstream from the Hendrickson Access.

When Wilson arrived by boat at the scene, he said, he found two boats stationary in a shallow portion of the river.

Wilson said both boats -- an Alweld and a Shoal Runner -- had what he described as extensive damage.

“I observed four subjects in the water, which appeared to be injured,” including two men, who were “laying in/against (Bollinger’s) boat,” Wilson said.

As Wilson evaluated everyone’s injuries, he said, three bystanders arrived to help.

Wilson said he found Cali Murphy laying in the water.

“Her head was being held above water (by) an injured passenger,” Wilson said. “(She) had a severe cut to her left arm and was bleeding extensively; she was unresponsive.”

Wilson said he initiated first aid on the teen and, with the help of two of the bystanders, “we loaded (her) onto the bow of my patrol boat. I transported (her) to the south bank of the Black River.”

When Wilson reached the bank, he said, troopers Greg Ulm and Chance Berry had arrived and began CPR on the teen, who had stopped breathing and didn’t have a pulse.

Upon the arrival of emergency-medical-services personnel, Wilson said, they took over the teen’s care and transported her from the scene.

Wilson said he, Berry and two EMS personnel went back to the crash scene on the north bank.

Wilson said he contacted the other injured persons, including the other boat operator, identified as Rushin, and began to render first aid.

The Murphys and Sisson reportedly were occupants of Rushin’s boat at the time of the crash.

Wilson said Rushin identified Bollinger, who was “sitting in the water, leaning against” his boat, as the other boat operator.

Bollinger, according to Wilson, admitted to being the operator of the Alweld at the time of the crash.

Smyth, who was a passenger in Bollinger’s boat, was found laying face down on the passenger side seat of the boat, Wilson said.

“I observed an empty Budweiser beer can on the floor of the white and blue Alweld,” Wilson said. “The can was inside of a koozie.

“I observed several unopened Busch Light beer cans inside of the orange Shoal Runner.”

Rushin, Wilson said, reported his was driving his boat upstream on Black River prior to the crash.

“He stated the white and blue Alweld was traveling downstream, to his left,” Wilson said. “Mr. Rushin stated that the white and blue Alweld veered toward his boat and struck his boat head on. (He) stated both boats were on plane.”

Rushin reportedly told Wilson that everyone in his boat was ejected.

“Mr. Rushin did not appear to be impaired,” Wilson said. “(He) voluntarily provided a sample of his breath on a preliminary breath test, which revealed to be .033 percent.”

When Wilson spoke with Bollinger, he said, the man reported he was traveling downstream and hit another boat.

“Bollinger stated he was on plane; however, did not know what had happened,” Wilson said. “While speaking to Bollinger, I could smell a strong odor of intoxicants emitting from his breath as he spoke.”

When asked whether he had consumed alcohol that day, Wilson said, Bollinger responded: “Yeah.”

“I asked Bollinger how much he had consumed ... He stated: ‘Several,’” said Wilson, he indicated Bollinger told him he had been drinking beer.

In response to questioning from Wilson, Bollinger reported he had had his last alcoholic drink about an hour prior to the crash.

“Bollinger’s eyes were glassy and bloodshot, and his speech was slurred, mumbled and incoherent,” Wilson said. “(He) appeared disoriented and did not answer further questions I had asked.”

Wilson said Bollinger, Rushin, Sisson and Kirk Murphy were transported to the south bank and each was placed in an ambulance.

Once Bollinger was inside an ambulance, Wilson said, he again tried to obtain further information from Bollinger.

Wilson described Bollinger as moaning and not responding to any questions or statements.

“While inside of the ambulance, (with) all doors closed, I could smell a strong odor of intoxicants emitting from Bollinger’s mouth as he exhaled,” Wilson said. “Bollinger was in and out of consciousness at this point.”

At 8:08 p.m., Wilson said, he arrested Bollinger, who subsequently was flown to Saint Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau for treatment of moderate injuries.

Wilson said patrol Cpl. Adam Miller applied for and obtained a search warrant in Cape Girardeau County for a sample of Bollinger’s blood. Those results were not known by press time.

Cali Murphy, Wilson said, was taken by ambulance to Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead at 8:51 p.m.

The teen’s father was flown to a Memphis, Tenn., hospital for treatment of serious injuries.

Sisson also suffered serious injuries and was flown to Saint Francis for treatment.

Both Rushin and Smyth were taken by ambulance to Poplar Bluff Regional, where they were treated for moderate injuries.

After the injured were transported from the scene, Wilson said, he photographed the crash site, and the boats subsequently were towed to facilities to be processed.

On June 5, Wilson said, he obtained a search warrant for both Bollinger’s 2003 Alweld and Rushin’s 1987 Shoal Runner.

Wilson’s findings regarding the boats have not been released at this time.

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