RANKIN COUNTY, MS (WLBT) - Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks officials told WLBT the man responsible for the collision killed his own father and a friend. Around 7:00 p.m. Sunday, located less than two miles north of Ratliff Ferry, a bass boat plowed into two other vessels before landing on a sand bar.
Jenna Martin and Jason Register were looking out over the water about 7:00 p.m. and saw the deadly collision unfold before their eyes. A speeding bass boat traveling up river turned into a sand bar where two boats were parked.
"He looked like he was turning into a parking space. He didn't slow down, he didn't attempt to," said Martin.
"When he hit the boats it sounded like he picked up speed and shot up in the air. Just the noise of it I still hear it. It was bad," said Register.
The boat operator was Brad Hardy, a Kemper County man in his 20s. Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks spokesperson Jim Walker said Hardy was likely impaired by drugs or alcohol at the time.
Two men who were relaxing in the parked boats were killed, 49-year-old Roger Gibson and Hardy's father, 60-year-old Mike Hardy.
46-year-old William Hulett was on the sand bar when he was hit by the boat. He was airlifted to University Medical Center and is listed in stable condition.
"This accident was very tragic, there were lives lost and there were a lot of lives that have been ruined," said Walker.
The deadly collision raises safety concerns for those who visit the water often.
"They have no wake zones throughout this whole river and I think they need to start putting more and basically start controlling what's going on," said Register.
This will make the eighth boating related fatality in Mississippi so far this year. "By the time the sun beats on your for six or seven hours fatigue sets in and your reflexes are slow. You combine that with alcohol or any kind of drug and you got a recipe for disaster," said Walker.
Brad Hardy faces numerous charges pending the outcome of toxicology testing. Walker said the three boats involved in the collision have been collected for evidence. Accident reconstruction could start as early as Tuesday.
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