MONCKS CORNER — David Blick Jr. and fiancee Lauren Kirk were drifting along the Cooper River in his new johnboat Sunday, laughing and tying on lures, when they heard the bass boat bearing down on them.
Pam Roark, Kirk's mother, said Wednesday that Blick waved his arms and yelled for the 20-foot bass boat to avoid them, but it kept coming.
Roark said he attempted to move the boat and, in apparent last ditch-effort, shoved Kirk out of the bass boat's way. His handprint is still bruised on her hip.
The bass boat T-boned the 16-foot aluminum boat and launched 7 to 10 feet into the air, a witness said this week.
Kirk survived but her high school sweetheart didn't. Divers found the 27-year-old's body two hours later, submerged in about 25 feet of water.
The Department of Natural Resources is investigating the crash. The results aren't expected for several more weeks, a spokesman said.
Kirk's attorney advised her not to speak about the incident for now, but she and Blick's family members said they want people to know that Blick was a responsible and experienced boater who would have never knowingly put his fiancee in danger.
Hours before Blick's viewing at his family's Orangeburg home, family members said they don't believe Blick and Kirk were at fault.
"Nobody really knows what the truth really is except for Lauren and the Good Lord himself," said Blick's grandmother, Janice Hiott. "My feelings as far as Davey and Lauren being negligent — I don't think they were."
DNR Lt. Robert McCullough said both boats were moving at the time of the 1:30 p.m. collision at a blind curve near Rice Hope landing. A witness said the bass boat, competing in a bass fishing tournament, was moving about 55 mph seconds before the collision.
Roark said Blick and her daughter were just drifting with the current near the shoreline with the engine idling. She said the couple stopped in what she considers an obvious blind spot, but figures the bass boat should have slowed down because of the blind turn.
"Personally, I think they were going too fast for the area they were in because there were so many blind spots," she said of the bass boat's occupants.
McCullough said the bass boat struck the right side of the johnboat, indicating that Blick turned left. Boating standards call for both captains to turn right to avoid a wreck.
Family members said if Blick did turn the boat the wrong way, it was to make sure his side of the boat — the right side — would bear the brunt of the collision.
"He was very much a man's man," Roark said. "I'm her mother and I can tell you when it comes to her, he was very protective."
Kirk remembers waking up in another man's boat. Authorities say the man, along with the driver of the bass boat, fished her out of the water.
The bass boat's driver, identified as James Lovell of Summerville, dove into the water and helped her into the boat, authorities said. He was not hurt in the incident and could not be reached for comment.
Kirk, 25, has a contusion on the back of her head that required staples. She also injured her shoulder and hip, and has bruises on her face.
On her right hip is a deep purplish bruise, resembling a handprint.
"It's definitely his handprint where he pushed me," Kirk said. "He put me first from the first day. We've been together for 10 years since I was a freshman in high school."
Blick was a sophomore. He told Kirk he loved her three weeks into their relationship. They were soulmates, she said.
They planned to get married shortly after she graduated from Trident Technical College as a dental hygienist in May. They had just been approved for a loan on a new home.
Kirk said she doesn't regret a moment they spent together.
"From Day One, if I knew it would end up like this, I would go through this a million times," she said.