The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

September 7, 2013

Two Joplin-area men killed in Kentucky boating accident

A local businessman who died early Saturday was being remembered fondly for his contributions in the community.

Jeffrey Thomas Asbell, 47, and Bradley Dave Smith, 39, died Saturday morning during a boating accident at Lake Cumberland near Monticello, Ky., in southern Kentucky, according to a statement issued by Forrest Hicks, coroner in Wayne County, Ky. He gave the hometown of both men as Joplin.

Gary Stubblefield, director of the Carl Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, said Asbell “had really gotten into speed boating.”

He recalled the help Asbell, the owner of Jeff Asbell Excavating and Trucking, gave to the Carl Junction community over the years. Among them was the donation of heavy equipment to move large stone welcome signs weighing several tons.

In 2010, Asbell’s business, which was north of Carl Junction on Missouri Highway 171, was named Business of the Year by the Carl Junction Area Chamber of Commerce.

In 2011, his company was one of several awarded contracts by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help with storm debris removal after the Joplin tornado.

Asbell also was the owner of Alpha Air at the Joplin Regional Airport.

“Everything he did, he did from the heart,” Stubblefield said of Asbell. “He did a lot for our community. A genuinely good guy. It’s just a big loss for our community.”

According to Hicks’ statement, Wayne County 911 Dispatch received a call at 10:24 a.m. Joplin time that a boat had flipped over near the Tom’s Creek area of Lake Cumberland.

Wayne County emergency responders and the Monticello Fire Department responded, and the bodies of Asbell and Smith were brought to the boat ramp at Camp Earl Wallace, where they were pronounced dead at 11:35 a.m. Joplin time.

Asbell and Smith were participating in the Lake Cumberland Poker Run, which said on its website that it attracts 150 of the country’s “meanest and fastest power boats.”

According to Hicks’ statement, the men were ejected from the boat during the accident. Asbell “suffered serious blunt force trauma to his head and Smith experienced serious blunt force trauma to his abdomen and lower extremities.”

The bodies are being returned to Missouri, according to the coroner’s office.


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