In May 15-21 issue By Greg Wells Times Journal Managing Editor
NEAR ROWENA - Last weekend marked a first this year for Lake Cumberland.
According to reports Cory Bankemper, 22, from northern Kentucky, was seriously injured in a boating accident.
Here is the stoy as it was described by Derrick Sears, a witness to the event. A representative of a boat dealership, he was instructing the owners about the operation of a boat they had purchased and was just delivered.
"We were just delivering our customers their brand new boat, which should have been a very happy day," Sears began.
He said he had piloted the boat from Grider Hill Marina, just across the Russell-Clinton county line to the mouth of the main lake (in Russell County) and had noticed a couple of jet ski operators jumping the big boat's wake. He said he felt they were keeping their distance.
"I stopped the boat and turned it over to the new owner for his first drive of his new boat, Sears said. "None of us were looking around for the jet skies as we took off again. They were stopped as well far behind us. As the new owner brought the boat up to plane, I happened to glance back to check were the rest of our passengers were, as they had been moving around. That's when I saw the problem unfolding."
Sears said the personal water craft began to maneuver to hit the boat's new wake.
"He hit the wave right off the transom of our boat and was not going incredibly fast but was accelerating up the wake," Sears said. "The ski shot straight up very high, 15 feet or so, and the rider came down head first on the hood of the ski."
Sears immediately leapt from the boat into the cold water to bring Bankemper onto the boat's swim platform.
According to others, Sears and Bill Garner held the injured man on the swim platform of the boat while Bryan and Connie Woods, the owners of the boat, called 911 as they drove back to Grider Hill to meet the ambulance.
Unconscious since the incident, Bankemper was airlifted to the University of Ky. Medical Center.
"We all did everything in our power to try and save Cory," Sears said. "I have been in contact with his family and he is making small improvements.He had sever swelling of the brain and broken vertebra plus many more broken bones and severe lacerations.
"Corey was a beginner rider and had he known what the ski was capable of I am certain that he would have rethought the situation. "This was not a case of someone out looking for trouble, or thrills, or bragging rights or any of that, the poor guy just had no idea of what he was getting himself into.
Sears adds that the family of the injured 22-year-old has had a rough time, not knowing if he was going to make it or not, and still have no idea of what kind of recovery problems he will have upon waking.
The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
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Russell County News is a weekly newspaper issued on Saturdays, and is mailed free to every address in Russell County, Ky. It was first published on February 1, 1913.
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