Friday, July 22, 2011

Lucas Smith and Carly Donohue: Spirits of Adventure

UPDATE: Friday 5:05 p.m. Formal Memorial Service for Lucas Smith will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday at the J. Henry Stuhr Mount Pleasant Chapel 1494 Mathis Ferry Road Mount Pleasant, SC 29464

From the Charleston Post and Courier's Andy Paras:

He was an old-school boat captain and businessman who squeezed adventure out of every living minute. She was a charming free spirit from Kentucky along for the ride.

Lucas Smith Photo by Cedar Posts

Carly Donohue Photo by Cedar Posts

Related story: Lucas Smith's father crushed

Together, Lucas Smith and Cara Lee Donohue, known by her friends as Carly, soared high above the waves Wednesday in a device best described as a flying boat -- a rubber raft connected to an engine and a parasail.

Some seasoned pilots said they wouldn't dare strap into a similar light-sport aircraft, but Smith had flown it around Mount Pleasant and his hometown of Sullivan's Island for a decade or more without so much as a scratch, sometimes taking tourists to the top of the Morris Island Lighthouse just for the fun of it.

"He was about as experienced with that thing as you can be," friend and harbor pilot John Thomas said.

But something went wrong Wednesday. Witnesses said the aircraft plummeted into the ocean between Dewees Island and the Isle of Palms at 6:19 p.m. Rescuers pulled them from the wrecked aircraft and rushed them to the Isle of Palms Marina.

Smith, a 40-year-old father of two, and Donohue, his 27-year-old first mate, were pronounced dead at the scene.

"All I can guess is it was a catastrophic failure of some kind," friend and business partner Chris McIntire said.

The Federal Aviation Administration spent much of the day Thursday investigating the cause of the crash, but a final determination could take months, if not longer.

An FAA spokeswoman said the aircraft should have been registered with the federal agency and subject to inspections by airworthiness inspectors, but was not. There also is no record that Smith had the sport pilot certificate required to fly the aircraft.

Daring but not careless

The news surprised friends, who said Smith lived life to the extreme but wasn't reckless.

As captain of his beloved Osprey, a popular charter boat Smith bought on eBay and worked on for three years, he made each trip feel as safe and fun as possible, Thomas said.

"I would trust Lucas with my life, hands down, on the water," Thomas said. "He was always extremely professional. Always safety first."

Thomas and McIntire said Smith was one of the finest boat captains they've ever seen, and told about how he could essentially parallel park a 75-foot Hatteras in gale-force winds without blinking an eye.

Thomas said Smith had old-school skills.

"People don't realize how good he was at what he did and how much he loved life," Thomas said. "He definitely enjoyed every bit of it."

A dream come true

Smith, McIntire said, definitely ran on all cylinders, captaining charter boats and operating his dry-clean business.

Carly Donohue used this photo and herself and Lucas Smith as her profile photo on her Facebook page.

"He lived with his hair on fire," McIntire said. "He was the type of guy to buy the first round. To lose him and Carly is beyond words."

Smith had wanted to charter his own boat ever since he got his captain's license. Just over three years ago his dream came true when he found the boat on eBay for $3,500.

"I suggested he sell it for scrap," McIntire said. "But he loved that boat."

He rechristened the boat Osprey and went to work.

"He put his life into that boat," Thomas said.

Through word of mouth, the Osprey quickly became a popular charter boat. A host and 48 of his or her closest friends could be treated to a two-hour harbor cruise, captained by Smith and his crew.

From cocktails and hors d'oeuvres to a full-blown oyster roast, guests could design their harbor tour to fit their needs.

The boat's popularity grew. More and more trips were being booked. Despite the fact that everyone on his crew knew how to operate that boat, it was always Smith behind the wheel.

Charm and grace

The work was time-consuming, and after two years Smith hired a young Donohue. She was originally from Kentucky but could crew on any size or type boat.

She not only came on as a crew member of the Osprey but also took over the marketing as well. On harbor cruises, she served as a bartender for the guests.

Carly Donohue used this photo and herself and Lucas Smith as her profile photo on her Facebook page.

Jose Hernandez, a longtime friend of Donohue and Smith, said he was happy Donohue found Smith.

"She was willing to not only be there for each trip but to take the boat's success to the next level," he said.

Chad Shores, owner of FINZ, said he knew Donohue well.

"She was just a fun girl. She was a free spirit and had a great outlook on life," Shores said. "She was very uplifting and everybody liked her. She just made you happy and put you in a good mood."

Their deaths cast a pall over the boating community Thursday. The Charleston City Marina flew its flag at half-staff in their memory.

Charleston City Marina Photo by Cedar Posts

Eddie Taylor, a friend of Smith for 25 years, said he will remember him as living life to the fullest.

"We had some fun times and took many road trips. One time on the way back from a ski trip he got three speeding tickets from North Carolina to Charleston. He lived on the edge," Taylor said. "If he was looking down he would say he died a happy man, doing what he loved to do."

Read the story, along with crazy comments some haters but mostly thoughtful and kind here.

Denise James' blog post about Carly is here.

More Details here and here.


Anonymous said...

Cedar I didn't know you knew Lucas Smith! Man he was the best! You always could expect a big time when Lucas had a "Hall Pass"!

What a shock it was to read the news yesterday.

RIP Lucas and Carly.

Anonymous said...

Certain they'll be greatly missed and from what I've just read I would have enjoyed making their acquaintance. May they rest in peace and my condolences to their families and friends. Peace.

Anonymous said...

Lucas Smith was one of a kind, if you knew him that you knew he was something else.

I is hard to explain but Lucas was the best and he'll be missed by all.

Anonymous said...

They sound like a fun and wonderful couple. Condolences to their family and friends....

Anonymous said...

Lucas and I were roommates at Eastridge Apts about 20 years ago. Best times of my life. He was an awesome person to be around and I will never forget him. RIP Lucas...

Anonymous said...

I didn't know Carly, but with that smile I'd say she was a keeper.

Lucas Smith I knew, and I think anyone in the marine, bar or hotel biz knew Lucas.

As someone said on the Post and Courier he was larger than life.

Godspeed Lucas and Carly we will think of you often.

Anonymous said...

Cedar I saw this comment on the Post and Courier today didn't know it you saw it or not.

"Every time I passed the Osprey I was given a proper salute by Capt Smith standing in clear view outside his wheelhouse.

Every time I ever had a conversation with Capt Smith he was helpful and courteious.

Every time I had the occasion to board his vessel I was treated with a mutual respect between Captains.

Fair winds and following seas to Capt Smith and his first mate.

Capt Kenneth Ezell
F/V Easy Lady

Anonymous said...

I recently met Carly on Lucas Smith's Osprey during a company outing.

They seemed so happy working side by side. We had great fun that night and promised to return soon.

I can only hope they were having a great day when this happened.

Lucas and Carly our thoughts and prayers with you and each other always.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone know Lucas was a poet? He held a spirit only a few know. I will post his poems that I have. Please post his poetry or stories if you would like to share.

Anonymous said...

That would be awesome please do post!

Anonymous said...


A cloud's whispering,thoughts float onto the chances of yet another day.
As Dreams would fly to another time where all would say Fate and Future are as one.
Glittering expressions Dancing wildly from lash to lash- intensified by the infinite reach of starlight as it bounds from limb to limb of the lush Mountain Pine.-She Follows! Encompassed by a shroud of gloomy Haze where an occasional window or ray might spark.
As Heated passions rise upon fiery flames, my love overflows for you. My thoughts of you transcend above to meet the clouds. Just as a cloud's whispering thoughts float on to the chances again of yet another day. Seemingly as dreams would fly to another time where all would yet agree that Fate and Future exist as one.
Encompassed by a shroud of gloomy Haze where an occasional window might break, allowing a single ray or more to escape, there- again igniting glittering expressions that dance wildly from lash to lash- intensified by the infinite reach of starlight as it bounds from limb to limb- of the Lush Green Mountain Pine. - She is there.-
Lucas M. Smith
December 1992

Anonymous said...

This morning as the rain continued to fall across the low country, I looked out across my back yard and down to the dock. Through the falling rain I could make out something perched on top of our boat house, an Osprey.

An in an instant he was gone, taking flight against the wind and the rain.

I don't think I'll ever look at Osprey as being common again.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:46 PM

I suspect that poem means a lot to you. I hope you find comfort in sharing it as much as I did reading it.

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

A Talon's Tight
By Lucas M. Smith

I do not have this above titled poem in my possession. I would love to read it again. Lucas had a journal he would scribe in. I hope it is found and treasured and maybe one day shared.

David Deland said...

That's very, very sad. What they did was very risky, even seasoned pilots won't dare do what they did. But they understood the risk and the dangers of what they're doing. May they both rest in peace.