Texas Game Wardens are reporting an “alarming” spike in deaths on Texas lakes. As of Friday, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department reported more than a dozen boating-related fatalities in the state.
Assistant Commander Cody Jones says half of those have involved kayaks.
“When a tragedy happens or an accident happens, it becomes tragic very quick for the paddle craft,” Jones said. “These are canoes, they’re kayaks, they’re stand up paddle boards that we are seeing. People are actually going out on the water and not coming home.”
Jones credits the heavy rain and rocky weather conditions for this unusual spike this year. However, Jones said one of the biggest violations he sees is children not wearing life jackets, which is illegal in the state of Texas.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard statistics at least 85 percent of people who drown in boating accidents were not wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) at the time.
“That’s definitely true in this case,” Jones said. “A simple ten dollar, 15 dollar life jacket could save your life. It’s as simple as when you get in a car you put on a seat belt, you don’t even think about it anymore. Same thing would apply here, put on your life jacket, don’t even think about it, it’s a life saving tool.”
Jones said 550 Texas game wardens will be out on every body of water in the state of the holiday weekend, making sure everybody stays safe.
“We work with over 700 officers from outside agencies that we certify that work the water,” Jones said. “So you’ll see us, you’ll see local police departments, you’ll see local sheriff’s departments. We all work hand in hand.”
According to the TPWD, last year during the Fourth of July holiday weekend, game wardens made contact with over 30,000 boaters and arrested 58 operators for boating under the influence.