CAMDEN COUNTY, Mo. — A man accused of driving drunk and causing a fatal boat crash in 2020 will face no prison time after pleading guilty to a lower misdemeanor charge.
John Dallas Bennett, 54, of Osage Beach, was sentenced on Tuesday, May 25, to six months in jail for his misdemeanor charge of boating while intoxicated, but that sentence was suspended. Instead, he was given two years of supervised probation. Bennett was also ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.
Bennett was originally charged with felonies for causing the death of 42-year-old Marie Steinkuehler, but those charges were dropped in the plea deal.
According to court documents, Bennett was operating a 1995 Sea Ray 370 downstream on the Osage Arm of Lake of the Ozarks overnight on July 24-25, 2020. At 12:07 a.m. on July 25, the Missouri State Highway Patrol was dispatched to investigate a crash involving Bennett’s boat.
When they arrived, troopers found five injured boat riders. The crash investigation showed that Bennett’s boat showed damages consistent with him staying on course and not attempting to evade the other boat. When Bennett was interviewed, the trooper smelled intoxicants on his breath and saw his eyes were bloodshot. He failed a sobriety test and his breath tested above the legal alcohol content limit.
As a result of the crash, a 13-year-old sustained serious brain trauma injuries. A 42-year-old sustained massive brain trauma and upper chest injuries. Steinkuehler was pronounced dead at the scene.