Each year, the Memorial Day Weekend marks that beginning of summer and a substantial increase in lake activities in the area. Sadly, this year, like many previous years, the holiday has been marked with several deaths on local lakes.
Sunday night, two personal watercrafts collided on Eagle Mountain Lake and killed two people. The crash occurred about 8:30 p.m. on the southwest portion of the lake near Azle. Two men on a personal watercraft collided with another personal watercraft operated by a man who had a female passenger. The man and woman on the same watercraft were killed. The man was identified as Richard Minnaar, 22, of Keller, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office. The woman’s identity had not been released Monday afternoon. “The investigation into the cause is still pending,” Lorance said.
Anyone who has ridden a personal watercraft knows how much fun these machines can be to operate, but they still require a level of skill and control that some people fail to appreciate. Because these machines have the ability to rapidly accelerate, and despite the fact that they look like a motorcycle, they do not brake or steer like a motorcycle. Therefore, stopping quickly or trying to make an emergency maneuver on a personal watercraft or jet ski can be very difficult for inexperienced riders. As a result, many lakes control not only the areas where personal watercraft can be operated, how those personal watercraft can be operated, and how much distance operators are required to keep between themselves and other watercraft, swimmers and the shore.
Although the reports on this incident have not given any indication if alcohol is suspected to have played a part in this collision, it is not uncommon for boating accidents to be an alcohol-related event as many people see going to the lake as an excuse to drink. However, Texas law makes boating while intoxicated just as illegal as driving while intoxicated, and being at the lake does not shield someone from being charged with public intoxication. Read our blog on Boating While Intoxicated for a brief review of some of the laws affecting alcohol consumption.
Sadly, there were two other deaths on area lakes these weekend.
Ricky Frazier (22) of Irving is believed to have drowned in Lake Grapevine after jumping into the lake from a boat 100 yards off show and never re-surfacing. Investigators do not know what caused Frazier to disappear but said alcohol does not appear to be a factor. Divers were also checking conditions at the site where he jumped in.
Balint Gash (24) of The Colony also died Sunday at Lake Lewisville after jumped off a boat and never surfaced. Game Warden Neal Bieler, captain for the Fort Worth district, stressed how important it is for all people at the lake to wear a life jacket whether people think they need them or not.” And for children, the law requires children 13 and under to wear a life jacket on any watercraft at all times, and each water craft must have at least one life jacket for each person on board. Likewise, any person riding a personal watercraft without a life jacket can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor.
Rachel Montes and Tom Herald are the attorneys at Montes Law Group, PC. We are located in the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex at 1121 Kinwest Parkway, Suite 100, Irving, Texas 75063. Telephone (214) 522-9401. Visit our website at www.Monteslawgroup.com and our Facebook at Montes Law Group, PC. to learn more about current events and issues that may affect you.