Former Etowah Co. Rescue captain indicted in rescuer's drowning death

Published: Dec. 22, 2015 at 6:55 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 29, 2015 at 7:00 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn
Etowah County Rescue Squad member Vicky Ryan drowned in the rescue attempt. Source: Dixon...
Etowah County Rescue Squad member Vicky Ryan drowned in the rescue attempt. Source: Dixon Hayes/WBRC
Vicky Ryan left behind a husband and son. Source: GoFundMe website
Vicky Ryan left behind a husband and son. Source: GoFundMe website
Michael Bettis. Source: Etowah County Jail
Michael Bettis. Source: Etowah County Jail

ETOWAH COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - The former captain of the Etowah County Rescue Squad has been indicted in the death of a squad member who drowned during a rescue effort in April.

Michael Bettis, 49, of Gadsden, is charged with one misdemeanor count of criminally negligent homicide in the death of Vicky Ryan.

Rescuers were searching for missing kayaker Dakota Crandall, 25, whom they believed capsized while he was trying to go over a low-head dam, which can create a waterfall-like effect, on Big Wills Creek, near Brooke Avenue, on April 25.

The kayak was still floating in the area when rescuers arrived but Crandall never resurfaced. His body was found the next day.

During the rescue effort, two rescue boats came too close to a spillway and capsized, causing around nine rescuers to fall into the water.

Several rescuers were taken to the hospital and Ryan was pronounced dead later that night. She left behind a husband and son.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency investigated Ryan's death and said that she died because of a capsized boat with an inexperienced operator.

Bettis is being held on a $2,500 bond in the Etowah County Detention Center.

Related stories: 

Etowah Co. rescuer dies during search for missing kayaker

Loved ones grieve over loss of Etowah County Rescue Squad member

Gadsden councilor pushes for change after 2 drown on part of Big Wills Creek

Copyright 2015 WBRC. All rights reserved.