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Robertsdale boater dies after fall into Perdido River

SEMINOLE (AP) — A Robertsdale man died after he and his 3-year-old daughter fell from his boat into the Perdido River near Seminole and he was struck by the propeller, officials said.

Authorities said the fatal accident occurred as Christopher Ray Wilcox, 28, was driving the small boat south of the U.S. 90 bridge while the child was sitting in his lap just before 6 p.m. Sunday. Witnesses said that when the boat went around a curve, Wilcox made a sharp turn to avoid two personal watercraft. His seat broke away from its attachment, sending him and the child into the water.

Officer Mark Parden of the Alabama Marine Police said the child, who was wearing a life jacket, wasn't injured. She was rescued by Wilcox's brother, James Wilcox, who was in the boat and leaped into the water to save her.

Parden said Wilcox, who was hit on the back of his right shoulder by the propeller, was not wearing a life jacket and did not have a kill switch to stop the boat's motor.

"We're fairly certain he was alcohol impaired to some degree and may possibly have been narcotics impaired," Parden said.

Rescuers located Wilcox's body about four hours later.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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