Father of 10-year-old boat accident victim says officers dropped the ball

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Karno says he made a photo collage to reflect Madison's life as a happy, active child. Now, he says he's not only mourning his 10-year-old daughter's death, he's upset on how the investigation into the boating accident that killed her was handled.

WLOX obtained a copy of the accident report made by the Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks. The report cites officers found four empty beer bottles and an ice chest with beer and a liter of vodka on the boat belonging to Rowe Crowder of Bay St. Louis.

The report says Crowder was at the helm at the time of the accident. Investigators also checked the box indicating Crowder had been drinking. One section of the 37 page investigation report details officers' conversation with Crowder at the hospital.

The report says officers "sat down with Mr. Crowder and informed him that he would need to give a blood sample to determine blood alcohol content. He then said he would give blood but when given the consent form, refused to sign."

The report says the officers then consulted with a supervisor who told them that if Crowder would not consent to a breathalyzer test to charge him with BUI Refusal. According to the report, Crowder agreed to take the breathalyzer test. The officers notes say the breathalyzer was given to Crowder at approximately 8 p.m. at the Bay St. Louis Police Department about three hours after the accident. The report notes that the test showed no alcohol in his system. Crowder was not charged and released.

The grieving father of Madison Karno, says he doesn't understand why Crowder wasn't charged immediately after refusing the blood alcohol test.

Nick Karno told WLOX News, "I think Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks dropped the ball. When he refused a blood test, he should have been charged with BUI Refusal."'

Karno also questioned how the agency compiled its report.

"They took statements, but didn't ask questions. If they did, they're not reflected in the report," Karno said.

Karno also says he believes there needs to be a bigger presence of Wildlife officers and other law enforcement on the waterways to prevent future boating tragedies.

"Either they are stretched too thin or they need help," Karno said.

Nick Karno has filed a civil lawsuit against the driver of the boat, Rowe Crowder. According to witnesses interviewed the day of the accident, Crowder was not driving the boat very fast.

We were unable to reach Rowe Crowder for a comment on the accident.

WLOX did contact Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks; however, we were told no one would be available for comment until Monday.

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