Criminal charges filed in jet ski collision

Posted at 3:11 PM, Mar 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-21 18:30:36-04

CHEATHAM COUNTY, Tenn. (WTVF) — It was one of the worst water craft collisions ever in middle Tennessee where the victims actually survived.

Was it an accident or more? Not there is a criminal case that will determine just that.

Emily Milam was badly hurt last summer when she was steamrolled by a rogue jet ski on Cheatham Lake.

"In this case the State is saying this jet ski was a deadly weapon," said legal analyst Nick Leonardo.

Police video shows the crazy scene on the lake shore. The runaway jet ski also hit two of Emily's friends, but she got the worst of it.

"I have a broken arm. I got nine staples in the back of my head." said Milam in the days after the collision.

So, how did it happen?

A man had fallen off his jet ski, but it kept going right into a crowd along the beach.

In the aftermath, deputy had to chase the jet ski driver, Terry Merritt Jr., down the beach.

"I was getting me a cigarette and my nerves are shot," Merritt could be heard telling the deputy on the video,"I didn't mean to hurt nobody."

The case was under review until this week when a Grand Jury indicted Merritt for reckless endangerment.

"The investigation has turned up facts that maybe this was not an accident, but maybe it did rise to the level of criminal activity," said Leonardo.

One take away from this -- accidents can happen on the water, but authorities can take a closer look and can bring criminal charges.

There is no indication that Merritt was under the influence that day.

TWRA does say those on lakes and rivers do have a responsibility to operate their watercraft safely.