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Statesboro man dies in weekend boating accident

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is investigating why two boats collided Friday night, leaving Statesboro's Charles Deal dead. Two men died and three people were injured in the boating accident on the Altamaha River in Glynn County. Deal, 67, was killed, along with another man, Ronnie Dan Metts, 33, of Hazlehurst.
    A second Statesboro man, Larry Thompson, 64, was seriously injured in the crash. Georgia DNR authorities are still investigating the two-boat crash, said Ranger Wil Smith,
    Around 10:30 p.m., Metts' 16-ft. boat collided with an 18 ft. boat owned by William Starling just down river from Altamaha Park in Sterling, he said.
    Deal, who was a passenger in Starling's boat, was apparently thrown from the boat upon collision. He was missing after the accident, and DNR rangers and Glynn County Emergency Management Agency officials launched a search for him early Saturday morning. The search lasted throughout the day into the evening, and Deal's body was recovered in the river near the scene of  the accident around 7:30 p.m., Smith said.
     Thompson was a passenger in Starling's boat as well, he said. Thompson was rushed to Southeast Georgia Health System Hospital in Brunswick with "serious injuries," he said.
    Neither Starling nor another passenger in his boat – William Clifton Jr., 65, were injured, he said.
    Metts was also killed in the crash, having died at the scene, Smith said. His wife, Heather Metts, and their 7-year-old daughter both suffered very serious injuries and were also rushed to Southeast Georgia Health System Hospital, he said.
    Heather Metts "currently remains in critical condition in Brunswick and her daughter is in critical condition at Memorial (Health University Medical Center) in Savannah," he said.
    "No passengers on Starling's boat were wearing life jackets at the time of the accident, though there were sufficient personal flotation devices on the boat," Smith said. Metts was not wearing a life jacket either. "Mrs. Metts and her ... daughter were the only passengers involved in the accident who were wearing life jackets."
    "More than likely, life jackets saved the lives of the two victims who had them on," he said.
    The accident is still under investigation, and "no charges have yet been filed," he said.
    Last year, 59 people drowned and 19 others died in boating-related accidents in Georgia, he said.
    A Georgia State Patrol trooper and the Coast Guard also assisted in the investigation, Smith said.

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