It was just supposed to be a pleasant boating trip.
Graham McCormick was visiting his friend John Randolph (Rand) Hooper in Lancaster County last August. When the two were enjoying a ride in Hooper’s father’s powerboat on the Rappahahannock River, the boat struck something underwater, knocking McCormick into the river, where he drowned to death.
In their roles as administrators of his estate, McCormick’s parents sued his friend John Randolph Hooper in November, accusing him of wrecking a vessel on a bulkhead in August while he was under the influence of alcohol, sending McCormick into the water and then leaving him behind.
Hooper…denied the allegations in court filings. [He] did say he sensed the boat hit something during the incident but he added he doesn’t recall what happened or who was operating the boat when it crashed.
The McCormick lawsuit accused Hooper and his parents, Gary and Lucy Hooper, of deliberately trying to cover up the accident, allegations that all three Hoopers denied in court filings.
McCormick’s body was found in Carter Creek off the Rappahannock River around 11:30 a.m. Aug. 11. About an hour earlier, McCormick was reported missing from the Hooper home, which is nearly 2 miles from the crash site, according to the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office.
Although he said he did not know how the accident happened, Rand Hooper said in his court filings that he did recall taking the vessel to his parents’ home after the accident.
Representing Hooper’s parents, Christine Williams, a DAGG attorney specializing in complex litigation, worked to negotiate a settlement. Under its terms, three insurance companies will pay a total of $4 million to McCormick’s estate. The estate, in return, released Hooper and his parents of any liability over his death.
Williams told the Richmond Times Dispatchthat she’s pleased the civil litigation over this “extremely tragic situation” is resolved.
“To have just some closure of the whole process is what will allow us to grieve, as we should,” said McCormick’s mother, Sally Graham after the hearing. “I think we’ve gotten some closure. It’s a chapter that’s closed.”