Even 200 yards away, Eric Isom said he knew immediately that the Lake Lanier collision was dire.
“The tube went under the water and popped up 10 to 20 feet,” said Isom, a Department of Natural Resources ranger. “We immediately knew something horrific had happened.”
Isom was on the witness stand Friday in Hall County Superior to testify in the trial of Jeffrey Simon Hubbard, an Atlanta man charged with homicide for his alleged role in a July 6, 2012, collision on Lake Lanier.
The collision caused the death of 11-year-old Kile Glover. Jordan Shepp, then 15, was seriously injured.
Kile is the son of Tameka Foster and Ryan Glover, president of Bounce TV. He was the stepson of entertainer Usher.
“There was blood all in the water … columns of blood. It’s not something you normally see,” Isom said.
Other eye witnesses to the accident testified that Hubbard had repeatedly driven a personal watercraft within feet of the pontoon boat operated by Ryan Glover.
Hubbard is charged with homicide by vessel and serious injury by vessel, both felonies. He also faces misdemeanor counts of reckless operation of a vessel, unlawful operation of a personal watercraft and boat traffic violation for alleged infringement of the “100-foot law,” banning speeds above idle less than 100-feet from vessels unless it is overtaking or meeting the other vessel in compliance with the rules of the road for boat operation.
Marcus Green, a family friend on the boat at the time of the accident, said he thought Hubbard had been boating recklessly.
“I actually thought ... he was going to try to go over that string,” Green said, referring to the ski-rope pulling the float.
“I don’t think he saw those kids ... or I’m sure he would have laid off the throttle,” Green added. “He just didn’t make it. The timing ... I think he mistimed it.”
Hubbard’s defense attorneys have implied in their questioning that if any boating rules were broken, Glover was the violator, not Hubbard.
Defense attorney Jeffery Talley posed questions to Isom about boating rules in a crossing situation, but Isom said the guidelines about vessels crossing paths were irrelevant.
“The PWC was going faster, and basically passed at the rear of the vessel,” Isom told Assistant District Attorney Yelena Abalmazova. “A crossing situation is when two vessels are coming head on.”
Toward the end of Isom’s four-plus hours on the stand, attorneys re-directed examination several times and raised objections with increasing urgency, charging the atmosphere in the courtroom.
Chief Assistant District Attorney Wanda Vance called the defense’s insistence on clarifying and refreshing Isom’s legal knowledge “farcical.”
Jurors were evidently amused, as they chatted and laughed during breaks in a case that has been otherwise emotional but solemn.
A snowstorm put the case behind its planned timeline, and Judge Bonnie Oliver considered Saturday court, but ultimately allowed jurors to take the weekend off.
The state continues presentation of evidence Monday morning.