AUSTIN — This past Memorial Day weekend, Texas Game Wardens patrolled Texas lakes and rivers to ensure visitors were recreating responsibly. They cited a decrease in accidents this year but noted an increase in citations issued, warnings and arrests.
Between Friday and Monday, 358 game wardens conducted 12,141 vessel checks across Texas — 19 percent more than in 2022. They responded to 13 accidents, two boating fatalities and two drownings. The two boating fatalities occurred at Choke Canyon and the Neches River and the two drownings occurred at Toledo Bend and Lake Halbert.
“Although the weekend was relatively safe, unfortunately deaths and drownings still occurred,” said Texas Game Warden Colonel Chad Jones “Our sorrow and sympathy are with the family and friends of the victims as well as the game wardens who assisted in their rescue and recovery. We are proud that more people are aware of and practicing safe boating techniques, but we must continue to educate the public so everyone returns home safely.”
At Lewisville Lake, Kim Sorensen, Boating Education Manager for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), hosted an educational outreach program for visitors. She was joined by Texas Game Wardens and Army Corps of Engineers Rangers who completed vessel safety checks and assisted boaters by loaning them missing safety equipment. Other partners, LV Project and Powerline Safety Initiative, joined TPWD and assisted with safety outreach and life jacket distribution.
“We had a successful event over the weekend,” said Sorensen. “Along with our partners, we reminded boaters to carry the appropriate boating safety equipment including life jackets for all passengers on board, a fire extinguisher, a throwable device, a certificate of number and their boater education card if they born on or after September 1, 1993. Furthermore, we stressed that children under 12 years of age must wear life jackets while on board.”
In addition to vessel and safety checks on the water, game wardens assisted with many other incidents across the state including Driving While Intoxicated violations, trespassing, pursuing a stolen vehicle, recovering a missing vehicle, assault and recovering and transporting a small alligator.
Summer is the busiest time for Texas lakes and rivers, and it’s important for everyone to continue practicing safe water and boating practices every time they hit the water. A complete list of safety equipment required is found in the Texas Water Safety Act. For more information about water safety, visit Water Safety — Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.