Game wardens investigate boating electrocutions - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Game wardens investigate boating electrocutions

(Source: KLTV) (Source: KLTV)

East Texas game wardens say a boating accident involving power-lines took only seconds to kill two boy scouts on the boat, and send another to a hospital.

A preliminary investigation by game wardens indicates that the vessel the boys were sailing collided with an overhead transmission power line.

"At this point, we don't have details as to how or where the boat was placed in the water. This was Troupe 620 of the Hallsville Boy Scouts Troupe.

It was a function of that troupe" says Captain Quint Balkcom of Texas Parks and Wildlife.

The three boys sailing the catamaran were ages 11, 16 and 18.

"With that type of vessel you do have a large mast," Balkcom says.

According to the game warden's office, it was an officially sanctioned scouting event. Sailing. But something went terribly wrong when they got near the power lines. Whether it was a gust of wind, or possibly misreading the current, the boat contacted the power lines.

Game wardens responded to find the vessel on fire with the sails up. A sight that visibly shook responders.

"Absolute chaos. Our officers were on the water in about 15 minutes. This is a terrible event, it absolutely is," the captain says.

Wardens discovered an 18-year-old male on board and a 16-year-old in the water a short distance away.

Both victims dead with severe bodily injuries.

"The boat was removed about 2 hours after the incident. It was placed in a secure holding facility. Right now we're looking at the hard facts that are here. The boat, to give us a full picture of what happened in this horrendous event," says Balkcom.

For lake residents, many who have children, the news was horrifying.

"I pray for the families that they get through this hard time. God bless them," said neighbor Jesse Arenas.

A third unresponsive 11-year-old victim was located in a boat nearby and was being provided CPR by good Samaritan’s.

But the tragic image will stay with investigators.

"In 17 years I've seen a lot of events, my officers have seen them as well. We have children, we have loved ones, and there's a mental capacity to that to see something so terrible. Absolutely breaks my heart," Balkcom says.

The accident is being investigated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's statewide boating accident reconstruction and mapping team.
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