Fort Smith man drowns at Robert S. Kerr reservoir

Ken Milam
News Reporter

A Fort Smith, Ark., man drowned Monday afternoon when the boat he was riding sank in the Robert S. Kerr reservoir in Sequoyah County, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported.

The patrol said Claudie D. Copeland, 69, was pronounced dead at the scene after his body drifted to shore near Applegate Landing. The boat's operator, Jackie D Copeland, 46, of Sallisaw managed to swim to shore where he was treated for minor injuries. 

Trooper Scott Lee said the 17-foot 1996 Stratos boat was about 80 yards offshore when it began taking on water due to lake conditions about 12:30 p.m.

The boat motor was up out of the water and the two men for some reason were unable to lower it back into the water. The vessel continued to take on water and sank. The operator was wearing a personal flotation device but the passenger wasn't, according to OHP.

The cause of the accident was listed as defective equipment.

Trooper Jamie Futral and the Sequoyah County Sheriff’s Department assisted in the investigation.