Speeds well in excess of 100 miles per hour down nearly eight miles of the main channel of the Lake of the Ozarks during the prime time of one of the busiest, perhaps even the craziest, weekends on the water of the year.

It was a crash reconstruction that surprised even the investigators of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Speeds well in excess of 100 miles per hour down nearly eight miles of the main channel of the Lake of the Ozarks during the prime time of one of the busiest, perhaps even the craziest, weekends on the water of the year.

The accident investigation and reconstruction report on the fatal boat crash of Aug. 26, 2016 that took the lives of two Louisiana men reveals a dash downstream that ultimately ended with the 44-foot yellow MTI catamaran running into the wake of a large cruiser, stuffing the front end of the vessel into the wave and flipping the racing boat to starboard and into the water backwards near the 10.3 mile marker.

Both men — operator Richard W. Prince, 49, of Metaire and passenger Bradley M. Dunphy, 40, of Lafayette — were killed.

The reconstruction report was completed by patrol investigators who were able to recover the vessel’s GPS but had to travel to Garmin headquarters in Kansas to download data from the damaged electronic device under the authority of an investigative subpoena. Obtaining the logs from the GPS unit helped investigators study the reasons for the crash.

“This is a crash where specific impact damage, GPS data, witness information and science piece together the reality of what happened that day. The information revealed in this reconstruction, and the forces involved should send a powerful message about boating safety to everyone,” said MSHP Sgt. Scott White. “This crash is a tragic reminder of how traveling too fast for the conditions and any type of impairment on Lake of the Ozarks can turn deadly in an instant. A mistake in a water environment can be unforgiving, even in the best weather conditions.”

The Lake Sun recently obtained the reports on the accident through an official records request after concerns from troopers and citizens about the dangers presented during heavily-trafficked times on the water.

“Shootout weekend,” the weekend of time trial races in late August that has over a storied 28 years become one of the largest unsanctioned offshore races in the country, is by anyone’s estimation one of the busiest moments of the year on the Lake of the Ozarks, as evidenced by recent hearings to renew the event’s regatta permit with the Water Patrol Division of the Highway Patrol.

While the time trials themselves are known for seeing speeds over 200 mph, these “races” are within the confines of a race course in as controlled an environment as possible while on water and surrounded by thousands of spectator vessels.

With witness testimony and GPS data, the crash reconstruction team putting together the pieces of the MTI crash were able to document the vessel leaving a lakefront bar at the 19 mile marker at 6:40 p.m.

The certified toxicology report by the Missouri State Highway Patrol Crime Laboratory Division - with names redacted - shows both occupants of the catamaran were well over the legal limit for operating the boat with one registering a blood alcohol level of 0.121 and the other 0.156, nearly double the legal limit.

From the bar, the boat travelled around 30 mph to off-shore of a marina just on the other side of the Grand Glaize Bridge, according to GPS data. Whatever conversation may have occurred between the two men at this point will forever remain unknown, but after a few minutes stationary at this location, the vessel was turned back toward the Grand Glaize Bridge, traveling downstream.

The beginning of the acceleration that would end in the fatal crash got underway at 6:54 p.m. (1854:10 hours). Five minutes later the two men were dead.

Shortly after traveling under the bridge, the reported speed was 102 mph, then based on distance, the reconstruction team estimated the boat’s speed as it passed in front of the breakwater at Lands’ End Condominiums at 86 mph.

Past the breakwater, the catamaran turned to starboard, going downstream in the main channel toward the Lake of the Ozarks Community Bridge, according to the reconstruction report, at 6:55 (1855:18 hours) reaching 114 mph between Lands’ End Condominiums and the toll bridge.

Just a little over a minute later, the MTI traveled under the toll bridge at 96 mph. Heading west in a “relatively straight path,” the distance from the toll bridge to the last index point recorded by the GPS was 28,238 feet.

The vessel averaged 104 mph from the toll bridge to the point of impact, but the last four speeds recorded by the GPS were 119, 121, 118 and 111 mph.

Arriving near the 10.3 mile marker, the boat’s last data point shows it about 550 feet south of the north shore in a channel 2,240 feet wide at its narrowest point in this area.

And here all the elements came together.

With water conditions described as rough by marine troopers responding to the scene of the crash, the area was seeing waves of two to six feet from heavy boat traffic in the immediate aftermath of the crash, according to the accident report.

One of the witnesses described the lake as the worst conditions he could remember, calling it the “wild west.” After witnessing the MTI crash, the witness told the trooper his vessel had almost been hit by a pack of six boats that were also driving in a reckless manner. He told the trooper he was “so emotional and shaken up that he was not willing to give a statement on this night, as he wanted to go home to his children.”

The scene described as the crash occurred was chilling with some of the witnesses rushing to the crash, jumping into the choppy water and swimming in and around the wreck but unable to find anyone.

Another witness told troopers, “The boat hit a big wave and became airborne. The driver pulled the throttles back and the rear of the boat came down then pulled the front down and stuffed it in a wave. The boat flipped over towards the starboard side and went into the water backwards.”

Witnesses attributed the especially large wake to a cruiser traveling upstream.

Statements from witnesses on the details of the crash itself essentially agreed with evidence from damage to the boat and injuries sustained by Prince.

According to the accident report, the MTI had “extensive damage to the top cap and lateral damage to the hatch hinges behind the cockpit leading down to the transom. The breaks and fracture lines on the windshield and surrounding resins into the carbon fibers indicate the boat struck the water inverted with the bow facing opposite the direction of travel.”

Prince was also found to have injuries to his head and face that were “consistent with the vessel quickly slowing and him continuing to travel forward into portions of the vessel in front of him.”

Ultimately, the Event Analysis from the reconstruction report concludes, “This crash occurred as a direct result of vessel #1 being operated too fast for the conditions present on Lake of the Ozarks. This crash occurred at 1859 hours on August 26, 2016, which is the Friday before the Lake of the Ozarks ‘Shootout’ boat races. Abnormally high boat traffic is common during and before the ‘Shootout.’”

“No matter how much boating experience a person has, we strongly encourage everyone to operate their boat with a clear head, at a safe speed, and adjust their speed for the conditions,” Sgt. White commented.

“Last August, two men took a boat out on the lake and didn't come back. Unfortunately, stories like these slip from the public consciousness with every new boating season. But not for the families. They live their loss every day. It’s a narrative told too many times since the lake reached spillway elevation on May 20, 1931. I think I speak for the entire lake region when I say, ‘we want every single person on Lake of the Ozarks to enjoy their time on the water, but make it home safely to their families.’”