Eugene Butler Jr. of Hancock County has been indicted on a manslaughter charge in the death of 19-year-old Vanessa Mauffray, who was checking crab traps with her boyfriend on Bayou Caddy when Butler’s boat allegedly broadsided the couple’s boat on June 25, 2016.
A Hancock County grand jury found evidence to send the case to trial in Circuit Court on the manslaughter charge. Butler was initially charged by the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources with boating under the influence.
Butler has a previous felony conviction in 2009 for possession of marijuana. According to Circuit Court records, he served three years on probation.
Mauffray, who was awake after the accident, suffered from internal injuries and died hours later at Memorial Hospital in Gulfport
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Family and friends remembered her on the anniversary of her death with a boat ride to the accident scene, where they placed a brightly colored wreath shaped like a sunflower, Vanessa’s favorite flower, on a post sunk into the marsh and scattered flowers in the water.
Her mother, Darlene Deschamp, has checked in regularly with investigators. She received word Monday of the indictment.
“It doesn’t bring her back,” Deschamp said, “but we’re getting somewhere.”