Driver Charged In Boat Crash That Killed 2 UA Students

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.


First degree manslaughter charges were filed Monday (Sept. 9) in Delaware County court against the Tulsa man who was driving a boat that wrecked in May, killing two University of Arkansas students.

John Stuart DeSelms turned himself in and bonded out Monday morning, according to a report from KOTV in Tulsa. DeSelms' next court appearance is set for November 12, 2013. Each manslaughter charge is punishable by imprisonment for four years to life, a fine or up to $10,000 or both.

Lab results show DeSelms had a blood-alcohol content of .18 at the time of the wreck, more than two times the legal limit, according to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

"He probably never even thought that anything more than just a normal day would happen but now it's going to affect the rest of his life," said UA student Lauren Worthington.

The accident happened on May 14. Rachel Swetnam, of Grove, Okla., and William Lewis “Trey” Varner, III, of Texarkana, Ark., were killed when a 22-foot Cobalt ski boat carrying eight people collided with a large empty houseboat docked in a marina at Arrowhead Yacht Club in the Duck Creek arm of Grand Lake near Grove, Okla.

"It was kind of just shocking at first cause I mean you might have walked passed them walking though the union or going to class," Worthington said.

Investigators with the Grand River Dan Authority said alcohol and speed were a factor in the deadly crash.

Swetnam, a Tri Delta sorority member and was set to graduate in Apparel Studies from the University of Arkansas next year. Varner was studying marketing and a fraternity member at Kappa Sigma.

"They have family and they have friends," said Amberly Watkins, UA student. "It was just really a tragedy."

Click here to read more about this accident.