Former Etowah County rescuer charged in death of squad member

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GADSDEN, Ala. (AP) — A former leader of the Etowah County Rescue Squad is charged in the death of a member who was killed during a rescue operation.

The sheriff’s office says 49-year-old Michael Ervin Bettis of Gadsden is charged with a misdemeanor count of criminally negligent homicide.

Authorities say Bettis was the squad captain when a member died on April 25 after a boat capsized during a recovery operation.

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Vicky Houston Ryan, 46

Officials at the time said 46-year-old Vicky Houston Ryan was killed after being swept out of a boat that was swamped by water after getting too close to a dam on Big Wells Creek in Gadsden.

Squad members were looking for a kayaker who was presumed drowned.

Court records aren’t yet available to show whether Bettis has a lawyer to speak on his behalf.

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