AUSTIN – Like many Texans, state game wardens spent the Memorial Day weekend out on the water. But, unlike the many thousands who flocked to lakes, rivers and coastal bays to recreate, these wardens were on the job ensuring boaters stayed safe.
Between Friday and Monday, game wardens conducted boating safety checks on more than 11,000 vessels across the state. In addition to issuing 1,279 citations and 1,339 warnings for various boating safety law violations, wardens arrested 39 individuals for Boating While Intoxicated and filed another 10 charges for Driving While Intoxicated.
By far, the biggest cause for concern game wardens observed during the busy weekend involved life jackets, according to game warden Cody Jones, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Assistant Commander for Marine Enforcement. Not recognizing one’s swimming limitations was another issue.
“One young woman fell out of her kayak, wasn’t wearing a life jacket and was clinging to her husband’s kayak as her vessel had floated away due to the wind,” Jones said. “Our guys pulled her into our patrol boat and got her to shore. The same wardens also rescued a 10-year-old boy who swam to the outer limits of a swimming area, became tired and was struggling to stay afloat.”
High winds also played a role in several water safety related incidents over the weekend, and may have contributed to the 11 drownings reported across the state. Extremely high tides and strong winds in the Gulf of Mexico created incredibly dangerous conditions for beach goers. Galveston shut down some of its beaches pushing pressure to other beaches. Freeport and Matagorda Beach each had one drowning while Matagorda Beach had at least a half dozen individuals who came under distress.
In addition, game wardens investigated 21 boating accidents that resulted in two fatalities; one on Lake Granbury and the other in the Aransas Pass channel.
“The dedication efforts of the game wardens while working these tragic events is second to none and we keep the families in our thoughts and prayers,” said game warden Col. Grahame Jones, TPWD Law Enforcement Division Director.