Parents Of U Of A Student Killed In Boat Crash Sue Driver


The parents of a 21-year-old University of Arkansas student killed in a boat crash last year at a marina on Grand Lake in Oklahoma have filed a civil lawsuit against her fellow student who was driving the boat.

Jeffery Swetnam and Janet Swetnam, the parents of Rachel Swetnam, a former Miss Teen Oklahoma, sued John DeSelms and other defendants in Delaware County District Court. The suit was filed Jan. 22.

DeSelms, the University of Arkansas student who drove the boat in a crash that killed two of his classmates, pleaded not guilty to manslaughter charges last year in Delaware County, according to court records.

DeSelms’ next court date on those charges is scheduled for July 28.

Rachel Swetnam was killed by accidental blunt force trauma to the head and neck,while William “Trey” Varner III died of accidental blunt force trauma to the head, according the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office.

The Delaware County District Attorney filed two manslaughter charges against DeSelms in September in connection with the fatal crash after the suspect allegedly admitted to drinking heavily and taking drugs prior to the wreck.

After charges were filed in September concerning the May boat crash, DeSelms was booked into jail in Delaware County and bonded out the next morning. Each manslaughter charge is punishable by imprisonment for four years to life, a fine or up to $10,000 or both.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol released an investigation report about a week after the May 14 deadly boat crash. The report states John DeSelms was arrested on suspicion of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs and alcohol after the 22-foot-long ski boat he was driving smashed into a docked, unoccupied houseboat at a marina on Grand Lake in Oklahoma.

While being treated at a nearby hospital, DeSelms told investigators he had consumed about 10 beers, one shot of tequila and an anti-depressant that was not prescribed to him before the crash. He also admitted to using marijuana two days earlier, according to the investigation report.


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