A year later, two friends hurt in boating accident see progress, but a long recovery ahead

Monday, July 01, 2019
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

Sydney Doremus and Abigail Hiers are still recovering after witnesses say John Speer hit them with his boat one year ago.

ALLENDALE, SC (WRDW/WAGT) -- We met Abigail Hiers and Sydney Doremus one year ago when they got hurt in a boating accident in Allendale.

A year later, they've come a long way but they've got a long way to go.

“I thought we were both going to die,” Sydney said.

Doremus and Hiers were hit by a speed boat in the Savannah River. After a year of hospital visits, surgeries and therapy they are still recovering.

“After the surgery, I was in so much pain and confused,” Hiers said. “I felt like I could not do it. I thought that was it, I really did."

Sydney’s dad, Gary Doremus, says it’s been a long road and it’s still far from over.

"Sydney is struggling. She goes to rehab once a week,” Gary said. “They shock her and she literally cries every single week and it kills me.”

Sydney still can't feel her leg from the knee down.

"Sometimes she'll just out of the blue start crying and I'll go hug her and I'll say what's wrong? And she says, 'I'm going to be handicapped the rest of my life,’" Gary said.

Gary says the most frustrating part is the person DNR says is responsible, John Speer, has not been punished.

“I don't know how you do what he did and he just walks free,” Gary said.

But now, a year later, Speer is one step closer to trial. In these indictments, he faces two counts of reckless boating and two counts of failing to render aid.

“I hope we can make that charge stick,” Gary said. “I really do because justice needs to be served in this case.”

Failing to render aid is a felony. South Carolina law says Speer could face 30 days to 10 years in prison.

The solicitor's office says, "There's nothing on the immediate horizon, but they're preparing this case for trial."

As for Sydney and Abigail, they still have several surgeries ahead of them.

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