Victims’ family suing in deadly Lauderdale County boat crash

Ross Wooten

Family members of the victims are suing the driver and the owner of the boat involved in the deadly crash.

Posted: Feb 28, 2020 8:37 AM
Updated: Feb 28, 2020 9:59 AM

Family members of the victims in a fatal Lauderdale County boat crash are suing the owner and the operator of the boat.

The crash happened in June 2019 and claimed the lives of Lauren Cowart, 37, and her 5-year-old daughter, Blakely. The boat they were in, which was driven by Ross Wooten, collided with a large cruiser on Shoals Creek.

Wooten was indicted in September 2019 for two counts of manslaughter. The Lauderdale County District Attorney's Office said his blood alcohol content was 0.121.

The lawsuit was filed by Cowart's mother, Elizabeth Livingston, and Blakely's father, Jason Cowart. They are suing Wooten and Susan Borden, the boat's owner, along with 10 other unnamed defendants for damages resulting from the crash.

The lawsuit alleges the crash was caused by “the negligent and/or reckless actions” of Wooten and by the “negligent actions” of Borden. It says Wooten had permission from Borden at the time to drive the boat.

Plaintiffs are suing unnamed defendants for “negligently furnishing alcohol to the Defendant Wooten while he was in a noticeably intoxicated condition and with actual knowledge he would be operating a watercraft.” It says this “caused or contributed to the deaths of Lauren and/or Blakely Cowart.”

According to the lawsuit, the unnamed defendants are currently unknown.

Wooten is accused of “operating the boat at nighttime with minor children on board and without proper lighting, Wooten was also operating the boat at a high rate of speed, traveling at least 20-25 miles per hour,” the complaint says.

It also accuses Wooten of turning his boat directly into the path of the other boat, causing the deadly crash.

“Wooten has a long history of substance abuse and was not competent or qualified to safely operate a boat on the waters of the State of Alabama,” the lawsuit says. It says Borden was aware of the alleged “history of substance abuse” and that Wooten consumed alcohol prior to driving the boat the night of the crash.

You can read our previous stories about the crash here and here.

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