Two Drown In East Texas Lake

Windy conditions may have played a factor in two drownings this afternoon.  There were reports of gusts of up to 28 miles per hour.   On Lake Palestine, authorities say white caps on the water made it difficult for people to swim.   The first drowning took place this morning around 9:00 a.m. near the Bluewater Subdivision in Henderson County. The Henderson County Constable says the man drowned after his boat capsized.   Then, around 1:30 p.m. a teenager drowned in the Sunrise Shores Subdivision.   The Henderson County Sheriff's Department says four teenage boys were trying to see how far out they could go. They swam about 100 yards, when the weaker swimmer went under. The teenager's friends tried to save him, but they were unable to bring him to shore.   Officials searched for about three hours before locating his body.  He's been identified as 17-year-old Jamey Cooey of Brownsboro.

Just miles away and hours before that drowning, an early morning fishing trip went terribly wrong for an East Texas man.  David McCauley, 76 of Tyler drowned after the boat he and his two friends were in capsized.  McCauley was wearing his life jacket, but the water's conditions were just too harsh.

Gene Steger and Marvin Gransville say physically they are doing fine, but emotionally they are having a hard time coping with the death of their good friend.

"We both liked to fish a great deal, and we would both who ha each other when we were fishing," said Gene Steger who was fishing with McCauley this morning. "Of course Marvin made the trio." The three men were fishing for catfish this morning in their boat, when the boat's anchor got caught on something under water.

"I tried turning the boat back in the direction of the wind, but couldn't succeed in loosening the boat, so next time I looked up water was everywhere," said Steger. "It was all up on the front surrounding me. Just the bow of the boat was above the water." With no where to go, Steger decided to swim to shore for help.

"Each one of them wanted to swim to shore, and I told them no, I didn't think they should sense I was the youngest and strongest," said Steger. It took Steger an hour to swim a mile to shore.  When he got there a man in his yard heard a cry for help.

"I talked to him, and he said his boat had sunk," said Kawi Kaambhu who heard Steger's cry. Two of his buddies are out there and need some help. Kaambhu got in his boat, but when he found the two men, McCauley was already gone. Henderson County authorities say they think McCauley swallowed too much water has he struggled to swim. Steger, who is also McCauley's pastor says McCauley did have some health problems and knows McCauley is now in a better place.

"He's in God's hands," said Steger. "Everything is going to be ok. There are not going to be anymore problems."   McCauley leaves behind a wife, a son and 5 grandchildren. Steger says just a few months ago, McCauley asked him to do his funeral when he died. He said yes, but never imagined it would be so soon.

Molly Reuter, reporting.