AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: The above video was published on July 5.
Fourth of July weekend was a busy one for Texas game wardens. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) said game wardens conducted safety checks on more than 12,200 vessels statewide between Friday and Saturday of the holiday weekend.
Game wardens issued 1,474 citations and 1,797 warnings for various safety law violations. Wardens arrested 42 people for boating while intoxicated (BWI), filed eight other charges for driving while intoxicated (DWI) and arrested another 33 people for various other charges.
Texas game wardens conducted multiple searches and rescues over the holiday weekend. They also assisted with 18 reportable boating accidents at several Texas lakes and rivers including Lakes Austin, Travis, Belton, Nasworthy, Bob Sandlin, Grapevine, Lewisville, Ray Roberts, Fork Ray Hubbard and Corpus Christi, as well as Canyon Lake, Possum Kingdom Lake, Richland Chambers Reservoir, McQueeny Grandbury and the Neches River.
Game wardens also responded statewide to numerous waterway assists and other incidents.
Additionally, game wardens dealt with two boating deaths and seven open-water deaths on Texas waterways over the holiday weekend. The two boating-related deaths occurred on Lake Lewisville. Open-water fatality locations included Lake Travis, the Brazos River, Lake Amon G. Carter, North Bosque River, Joe Pool, the Gulf of Mexico (Matagorda Beach) and the Comal River.
"The dedicated efforts of the game wardens while working these tragic events is second to none – and is never the easiest part of the job," said Cody Jones, TPWD assistant commander for marine enforcement. "We keep the families who have suffered in our thoughts and prayers."
In Austin on Lady Bird Lake, TPWD Boater Education Manager Kimberly Sorensen and the City of Austin Lake Patrol made contact with 60 people without proper life jackets on their canoes, kayaks or stand-up paddleboards. The Texas Water Safety Act states that everyone on board a boat must have a life jacket that is easily accessible and children 12 and under must wear a jacket while the boat is underway or drifting on the water.
"Many accidents and fatalities could be avoided by taking a boater education course and using life jackets," Sorensen said.
In addition to boating incidents over the Fourth of July weekend, Texas game wardens also responded to non-boating incidents including the illegal shooting of wildlife, illicit drug possession and use, and helping lost children find their parents.
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