Hooper will face a jury on felony charges related to 2017 fatal boating accident

Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi

by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi

LANCASTER—John Randolph “Rand” Hooper will stand trial on two felony charges in a Lancaster County Circuit Court in February 2019. The charges stem from a fatal boating accident that occurred on Carter Creek.

Hooper, 32, of Richmond was arraigned Friday, August 17. Judge R. Michael McKenney set a three-day jury trial for February 13, 14 and 15. Hooper’s attorney James C. Breeden of Irvington requested a jury versus bench trial.

Hooper was indicted by a Lancaster County Grand Jury July 27 on an involuntary manslaughter charge while operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs and additionally on a felony of failing to render aid.

The indictments came nearly a year after a boating accident resulted in the death of 31-year-old Graham McCormick of Georgia. McCormick was visiting Hooper and other friends at the Irvington estate of Gary and Lucy Hooper. His body was found by a passing boater on August 11, 2017.

An initial medical examiner’s report listed the cause of death as drowning but an investigation by the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Department uncovered damage to a 21-foot Boston Whaler at the Hooper’s home. It was later determined McCormick, who had trauma to the body, had died as a result of a boating accident, according to Major William Webb, Chief Deputy with the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Department.

Following the indictment, Hooper was released on a $2,500 bond.

Lancaster County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jan Smith requested an amendment for pre-trial supervision. The request, granted by McKenney, means Hooper will be periodically screened for drugs and alcohol use prior to the February trial date. He will initially have to register for the program at the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw but can follow that with screenings nearer his home in Richmond, said Smith.

Smith requested the amendment because Hooper has two prior driving under the influence (DUI) charges and the current incident was an alcohol-related event.

If convicted, Hooper could face a sentence of up to 20 years for the manslaughter charge and an additional sentence of up to five years for the failure to render aid felony.

McCormick’s family reached a $4 million settlement in a civil lawsuit against Hooper and his parents in May. McCormick’s parents, J. Burke McCormick and Sallie T. Graham, initially filed a $10.35 million lawsuit.