Elgin man who admitted drinking 8 beers before fatal Lake Murray boat crash found guilty

Ted Clifford/Ted Clifford

The South Carolina man who admitted to a day of drinking before causing a fatal wreck on Lake Marray has been found guilty of reckless homicide, but was acquitted of two charges of boating under the influence.

Tracy Gordon, 57, admitted that he drank eight beers over the course of the day while he and his wife drove their speed boat around the lake, watched football and danced at popular lakeside restaurants on Sept. 21, 2019.

Shortly after 9 p.m., as the couple were driving home in the Baja speedboat, the couple made a left turn across a channel and collided with a pontoon boat containing three members of the Kiser family. The father, Stan Kiser, was killed in the crash after sustaining catastrophic injuries from the speedboat’s propeller. His wife, Shawn, had a leg amputated and his daughter, Morgan, suffered head injuries.

The verdict was delivered by a Richland County jury shortly before 11 p.m. Wednesday, after almost nine hours of deliberation. Gordon will be sentenced Thursday morning.

Over the deliberations that stretched through the afternoon and into night, the jury, comprised of eight women and five men, sent the judge 11 notes. These included requests to review expert testimony about running lights on the pontoon boat, to hear clarifications about the reckless homicide charge and how to proceed if they could not reach a verdict.

The case was prosecuted by Deputy Solicitor Dan Goldberg and Assistant Solicitor Carter Potts from the Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office.

Gordon, a former manager at the Mars dog food factory in Richland County, was represented by Jack Swerling, Joe McCulloch, Alissa Wilson and Will DuBose.

While defense attorneys conceded that Gordon had drunk as many as eight beers over the course of the day, they maintained that he was not “materially or appreciably impaired” — the legal standard for the charge of boating under the influence.

Gordon, an experienced boater, testified that he was not drunk and he did not see the Kisers’ boat until it was too late to turn away. The crash was simply a tragic accident, the defense argued.

But throughout the trial, solicitors argued that Gordon was impaired when he drove his 24-foot Baja Outlaw speedboat into the Kisers’ pontoon boat.

“This was not an accident,” Goldberg said in his closing arguments to the jury. “If he was not reckless this wouldn’t have happened. If he was not materially and appreciably impaired this wouldn’t have happened.”

Members of the Kiser family and their supporters sat in the gallery throughout the trial.