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Lexington man sentenced to just 7 years after killing two in Boating Under the Influence incident

Lexington, SC 10/11/2022 (Paul Kirby) – A Lexington man was sentenced yesterday to 7 years in the SC Department of Corrections for a boating crash that occurred in 2020 on the Broad River. Dylan Steele, 28, was sentenced after being out on bond since the tragedy occurred. He had been charged with Boating Under the Influence resulting in death.

Steele’s actions claimed the lives of Jamie Lindler, 27, of Chapin and Andrew Bunnell, 28, of Irmo. The incident happened on August 1, and it took over 2 years for the case to come to this final phase. Steele plead guilty to all charges earlier this year. Because the collision occurred on the Broad River in Newberry County, the hearing took place at their courthouse in Newberry.

According to fervent boating safety advocate Randall Smith, founder of Boating Safety SC and author of Drew’s Law, a tougher boating law that increased penalties for such boating related crimes, the sentence that Steele received was much too lenient for the crime he committed. Smith knows the pain and anguish of losing a loved one to people who operate a boat while intoxicated. In 1997, Smith’s 11-year-old son Drew was killed during a fishing trip on Lake Murray. The boat that Randall and Drew were in was run over killing Drew instantly. The other boat's operator was intoxicated at the time.

In a statement released to the press the day of the final hearing, Smith said that this was not much of a sentence considering two people died because of Steele’s careless actions. “Why is it that our judges won’t show more compassion for the victims’ families? After all, they got a life sentence! Has Steele learned a lesson? I’ll let you decide.”

Smith continued by saying, “I sat in the courtroom today and listened to Steele’s attorney say how good a person he is. Not one time was it mentioned today that reportedly when Steele was out on bond, he broke his foot in a golf cart accident while intoxicated. Clearly in violation of his bond agreement.” He continued referencing testimony at the hearing by saying, “If that is not bad enough, Steele also reportedly called SCDNR asking for his boat back prior to the trial. His boat was evidence in the case against him. Was I surprised at the light sentence? NO! Until our so-called Justice System starts imposing punishment that fits the crime, these actions will continue. Steele could have received as much as 25 years in prison,” Smith said. “Nationwide, the average sentence for BUI resulting in death is only 10 years and with good behavior reducing it to as little as 7 years.”

Smith, no stranger to the elected leaders of our state who work out of the SC Statehouse in Columbia, will continue to work diligently to push for tougher minimum sentencing guidelines and laws that will make boating safer for everyone who chooses to enjoy South Carolina’s waterways. He’s done this since his son was killed in 1997. You can find, join, and following his Boat Safety SC on Facebook and contact him through the information found there.

PHOTO CAPTION: Lindler and Brunell before this sensless tragic took their lives in Augut of 2020


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