Cause Of Death Released For UA Students Killed In Boat Crash

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The two University of Arkansas students who were killed in an Oklahoma boat crash earlier this week died from blunt force trauma, according to findings just released by the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office.

An examiner’s report states William “Trey” Varner III died of accidental blunt force trauma to the head, while Rachel Swetnam was killed by accidental blunt force trauma to the head and neck.

Meanwhile, a memorial service for the two students who were killed has been set for Tuesday at 3 p.m. in the Union Verizon Ballroom, officials said.

Investigators believe alcohol may be a contributing factor in the wreck, although toxicology results from Varner and Swetnam will not be available for two to four months, according to the medical examiner’s office.

Varner, of Texarkana, Ark., and Swetnam, of Grove, Okla., 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.

The accident happened at about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Others in the boat included the driver, John Deselms, of Tulsa, along with Taylor Perry, of Springdale, Eugene DeVerges, Bryce Banham, both of Tulsa, Taylor Reynolds of Plano, Tx., and Chad Scott of Perry, Okla.

Deselms and Perry were transported to Craig General Hospital for treatment and later released. Some of those in the boat were students at the University of Arkansas, according to the university.

Swetnam, a Tri Delta sorority member, was set to graduate in apparel studies from the UA next year.

“Rachel is someone that we`re really going to miss. She`s actually the first person I threw up the Delta with, a really sweet girl. We`re really going to miss her,” said Cassie Murphy, Tri Delta member.

“She was actually going to live in LA this summer and intern up there because she`s a fashion design major,” said Sara, Tri Delta member.

Varner was studying marketing and a fraternity member at Kappa Sigma.

“He could definitely light up a room, just by being with them.  Rachel and him were really good friends,” said Murphy.

Emergency 911 calls released Wednesday by authorities provided new details on the tragedy.

The calls came in from other boaters who witnessed the crash.

Below are excerpts from the 911 calls:

Caller: “There are eight people. Gosh, there’s blood everywhere. People are sitting on the dock. Two of them are lying on the dock, blood everywhere. Two on the dock are alive.”

2nd Caller: “We got a marjor accident at Arrowhead. Major, major wreck, okay?”
911: “Okay, injuries?”
Caller: “Yeah, big time.”

3rd Caller: “People are hurt, possibly two fatalities. A boat ran into, its inside the other boat, the whole boat is inside the other boat.”

4th Caller: “A boat just an into the dock 40-50 miles per hour. There were about six people in it.”

Authorities are still investigating the cause of the crash, but believe speeding and alcohol were factors.

“We continued processing the scene and were able to remove the Cobalt vessel from the scene,” said Police Chief Bryan Edwards of the Grand River Dam Authority.

Officials are determining whether to seek charges against the driver of the boat, identified by authorities as DeSelms, a UA student.