MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis man pleaded guilty to two counts of vehicular homicide by intoxication Monday, two years after the boating deaths of a father and daughter on Pickwick Lake.
Matthew Swearengen, 34, was sentenced to 12 years in jail. His driver’s license was suspended for three years and his vessel operating privileges will be revoked for 10 years, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency said.
Swearengen’s personal watercraft collided with another watercraft on Aug. 15, 2020, authorities said.
The collision killed David Carter, 40. His 6-year-old daughter Olivia was airlifted to Memphis, where she later died.
Pickwick Lake is located approximately 140 miles east of Memphis on the Tennessee River.
David Carter was an electrical engineer and outdoor enthusiast from Oakland, in Fayette County, according to his published obituary. His daughter Olivia was known to the family as “Livi Lu.”
Nicole Carter, the wife of David and mother to Olivia, said in a release:
“Today is closure for our family and friends. It’s been a long, emotionally draining two years for all of us, but we are thankful for the TWRA investigators, district attorney, witnesses, and everyone involved who helped bring justice for David and Olivia. What happened to David and Olivia could have been prevented. What started as a fun, family day out on the water ended in the worst way possible, all because someone decided to consume alcohol and then operate a watercraft. This one terrible decision forever changed and impacted the lives of so many people. You may think this could never happen to you, but trust me, it can. I am begging you; please do not operate any form of motorized vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. The damages left behind will forever impact our daily lives.”
TWRA said alcohol is the leading contributing factor to recreational boating deaths. TWRA officers are on patrol looking for impaired operators.