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Mother talks about son's fatal tubing accident

Posted September 1, 2010
Updated September 2, 2010

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— Melinda Coleman had just sat down to dinner when she got the call from her daughter with the devastating news.

"She said, 'It's Brandon.' And I said, 'What?'" Coleman recalled. "'He's gone.' And I said, 'He's gone where?' She said, 'He's gone forever."

Coleman's 21-year-old son, Brandon Leigh Godfrey, got tangled in a tow rope while tubing on Lake Jocassee in upstate South Carolina on Aug. 21 and died from his injuries.

Oconee County Coroner Karl Addis said Godfrey died of neck trauma after he fell or jumped onto a ski rope pulling a second tube. The autopsy showed he suffered a fractured cervical spine that cut his spinal cord.

Woman remembers son killed while tubing Woman remembers son killed while tubing

An investigator told Coleman that her son's wind pipe was crushed and that he likely died instantly. His death was ruled an accident, and authorities said no alcohol was involved.

Godfrey, a lifelong Cumberland County resident and 2006 South View High School graduate, was in the area visiting his step-siblings, his mother said.

"He was there to have so much fun, and he was, I'm sure, having so much fun," she said. "He loved the outdoors, boating, sports."

Coleman said she felt compelled to talk about her loss in an effort to urge people using ski tubes to be careful.

"I don't want this to happen to anybody else. When and if safety regulations need to be toughened, I would like that to happen," she said.

Although it's unclear how many involved tubes, Coast Guard officials said there were 469 water skiing accidents and 13 deaths across the country last year. Skiing mishaps were the second highest type of water accident, just behind boat collisions.

Godfrey, who worked for Greyhound, was a student at Fayetteville Technical Community College and hoped to become a music engineer, his mother said. He loved football, and played in high school, and especially loved his friends.

"He loved his friends fiercely. (He was) fiercely loyal," Coleman said. 

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  • wildcat Sep 2, 2010

    So tragic!. My condolences to the family. May all young people learn from this.

  • Iworkforaliving Sep 2, 2010

    bummer.

  • Ilovemyboys Sep 2, 2010

    My guess is that they were pulling 2 tubes and he fell off (or possibly was jumping from tube to tube) and got tangled in the rope of the second. My boys like to have 'tube wars' when pulling 2 tubes... will now have to reconsider.

  • CodeNameJade Sep 2, 2010

    How tragic. Thank you to Mrs. Coleman for thinking of others safety even in her time of loss. I'm so sorry, my prayers are with you.

  • lisa4 Sep 2, 2010

    May God bless this family and give them the strength they need. So sad.

  • sophiemom Sep 2, 2010

    That is sad. It sounds like one of those "freak" accidents that just happen; he jumped or fell on the tow rope and hit it in the wrong way. He sounds like he was a nice young man. My prayers are with the family too.

  • Adelinthe Sep 1, 2010

    The ski tube wasn't the problem, it was the rope that killed him. Wonder why in the world he would jump on the rope pulling the tube?

    How tragic!!!

    Praying for those who loved him.

    God bless.

    RB

  • delilahk2000 Sep 1, 2010

    PRAYERS ARE WITH YOU....

  • whyalltheproblems Sep 1, 2010

    So very sorry for the family...

  • UPTOP Sep 1, 2010

    That is so sad .....