Cause of death determined for boy killed in Current River boat accident

Wednesday, July 8, 2009 ~ Updated 2:00 PM

DONIPHAN, Mo. -- An autopsy Tuesday determined a Poplar Bluff boy drowned after being ejected from a boat during a deadly weekend boating accident on Current River.

Dr. Russell Deidiker performed an autopsy on Jerry Mote, 11, at Mineral Area Regional Medical Center Tuesday afternoon.

"His cause of death was due to drowning," explained Ripley County Coroner Mike Jackson.

Jerry was ejected from a johnboat allegedly being operated by Radeena Proffer at about 3:30 p.m. Sunday near Worley's Rock, located a couple of miles above Doniphan. Proffer's boat, according to earlier reports, was going downstream and collided with another johnboat going in the opposite direction.

Emergency personnel began searching for Jerry immediately after the accident was reported and continued until about 11 p.m. Sunday.

Searchers resumed Monday morning, with divers from the Missouri State Water Patrol and Doniphan Fire and Rescue joining the search.

Jerry's body was recovered at about 12:20 p.m. Monday about a one and one-half miles downstream from Worley's Rock, Water Patrolman David Nelson said earlier. That location reportedly was about 200 yards upstream from the Highway 160 bridge.

According to Nelson, Jerry's body was found pushed up against a root wad by a private citizen who was assisting in the search.

Proffer, who allegedly was intoxicated at the time of the crash, was charged with the Class B felony of first-degree manslaughter in connection with Jerry's death and the death of Josh Burson, who was a passenger in the other boat.

Proffer was to be arraigned at 9 a.m. this morning by Associate Circuit Judge Thomas Swindle.

As mandated by law, Jackson said, a child fatality review board also was held this morning to look into Jerry's death.

"The panel meets to try to ensure a child's death doesn't go un-investigated," Jackson explained. The panel, he said, reviews the death of anyone under age 18.

Jackson said the panel looks into the circumstances of the death and tries to find any preventative measures for the future.

The fact that Jerry's death was an accident was "pretty much" what "we discussed today," Jackson said.

The Water Patrol's accident reconstruction team began their investigation of the crash on Tuesday.

"How long it takes to do the investigation mostly depends on the amount of damage to the boats," said Nelson, who described both as being badly damaged. " ... The more damage the longer it is going to take them."

The officers reconstructing the accident, he said, took photographs and measurements as part of the investigation.

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