Rich­mond man charged with mis­de­meanor in boat ac­ci­dent that au­thor­i­ties say killed 1

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - METRO2 - BY SEAN GOR­MAN sgor­man@times­dis­ (804) 649-6885

A Rich­mond man has been charged with not promptly re­port­ing an Au­gust boat­ing ac­ci­dent that in­ves­ti­ga­tors said took the life of Gra­ham Mc­Cormick, a Ham­p­den-Syd­ney Col­lege grad­u­ate.

John Ran­dolph Hooper, 31, was charged Oct. 5 with a mis­de­meanor count of fail­ing to make a timely re­port of the boat ac­ci­dent, ac­cord­ing to on­line court records with the Lan­caster County Gen­eral Dis­trict Court.

Mc­Cormick, a 31-year-old for­mer Rich­mond man, was found Aug. 11 float­ing in Carters Creek off the Rap­pa­han­nock River, Lan­caster Sher­iff’s Of­fice in­ves­ti­ga­tors said in a search war­rant filed in the case. Mc­Cormick had been vis­it­ing friends at an Irvington home owned by Hooper’s fa­ther, in­ves­ti­ga­tors said in court pa­pers.

Hooper de­clined to com­ment for this story on Thurs­day. His at­tor­ney, Jef­frey Matthews, also de­clined to com­ment.

Be­yond the mis­de­meanor charge, it’s un­clear whether ad­di­tional charges will be filed in the case, said Lan­caster Sher­iff Pa­trick McCranie. The sher­iff said he could not say defini­tively who was driv­ing the boat at the time of the ac­ci­dent, adding that is still un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The sher­iff said he ex­pects the case will en­tail a long-drawn-out in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“We’re still try­ing to bring clo­sure but, like I said, it’s gong to take awhile,” McCranie said.

When Mc­Cormick, a cor­po­rate fi­nance an­a­lyst at SunTrust Bank in At­lanta, was re­ported miss­ing, the caller said he was last seen down by a dock at the res­i­dence and it was sus­pected he might have fallen into the wa­ter, ac­cord­ing to Maj. William Webb, chief deputy at the Lan­caster Sher­iff’s Of­fice.

But in­ves­ti­ga­tors even­tu­ally con­cluded that Mc­Cormick, who was found in the wa­ter nearly 2 miles from the dock of the home where he had been stay­ing, in­stead died fol­low­ing a boat­ing ac­ci­dent that in­volved a 1999 Bos­ton Whaler power­boat reg­is­tered to Gary Hooper, John Ran­dolph Hooper’s fa­ther.

The el­der Hooper, a Rich­mond na­tive and for­mer se­nior vice pres­i­dent at the com­mer­cial real es­tate firm Cush­man & Wake­field | Thal­himer, had been in Africa trav­el­ing at the time of the in­ci­dent, Webb said.

Au­thor­i­ties said the boat struck a bulk­head in the wa­ter. When he was pulled from the wa­ter, Mc­Cormick had a cut and scratches to the left side of his head and face, the sher­iff’s of­fice said in court pa­pers.

The state med­i­cal ex­am­iner’s of­fice said Mc­Cormick’s death was caused by drown­ing and that his death was ac­ci­den­tal, but the sher­iff’s of­fice has said it is await­ing a fi­nal au­topsy re­port in the case be­fore coming to that con­clu­sion.

In the search war­rant filed in the case, in­ves­ti­ga­tors said Mc­Cormick had been with a group of friends on Aug. 10 and that wit­nesses said the group went for a boat ride and then out to din­ner. Wit­nesses told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that af­ter din­ner, the group re­turned to the home and that Mc­Cormick was hang­ing out at the dock with two friends drink­ing al­co­holic bev­er­ages, ac­cord­ing to the search war­rant.

The two wit­nesses who were with Mc­Cormick told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that all three of them went to their sep­a­rate rooms around 12:30 a.m. on Aug. 11, the sher­iff’s of­fice said in court pa­pers. Later that morn­ing, around 10:30 a.m., Mc­Cormick was re­ported miss­ing and his body was found about an hour later, ac­cord­ing to the sher­iff’s of­fice.

In a visit to the home three days later, Lan­caster sher­iff’s de­tec­tives said they spot­ted dam­age to the boat. An ac­ci­dent re­con­struc­tion by the Vir­ginia Depart­ment of Game and In­land Fish­eries de­ter­mined the boat had been in­volved in an ac­ci­dent that hap­pened near where Mc­Cormick’s body was found, in­ves­ti­ga­tors said in court pa­pers.

John Ran­dolph Hooper told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that he re­mem­bers get­ting the boat off the bulk­head af­ter it crashed but has said he does not re­call who was driv­ing the ves­sel at the time of the ac­ci­dent, Webb said.

Mc­Cormick’s fam­ily has re­tained a Roanoke-based law firm that is also ex­am­in­ing the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing his death. Matt Broughton, an at­tor­ney for the fam­ily, said Thurs­day that the fam­ily is be­ing pa­tient wait­ing to see what the in­ves­ti­ga­tion finds.

“They are def­i­nitely heart­bro­ken and try­ing to fig­ure this thing out,” Broughton said.


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