Memorial Day Weekend very busy for Texas Game Wardens

Texas game wardens investigated seven drowning deaths and another four boating-related fatalities over what proved to be one of the state’s deadliest Memorial Day weekends.

In addition to handling those tragedies, game wardens issued hundreds of water safety citations and made numerous arrests, including 31 persons for boating while intoxicated, 7 for driving while intoxicated, 14 for public intoxication and 36 on various drug-related offenses.

“Texas game wardens will remember this Memorial day weekend for years to come,” said Lt. Col. Danny Shaw, Deputy Director of Law Enforcement for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “Tragically, this was one of the deadliest three-day holidays in recent memory.”

Wardens responded to 21 boating accidents that in addition to four deaths led to two serious injuries.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of all this weekend’s victims,” Shaw continued. “Game wardens will continue to be vigilant in our efforts to protect Texans on our public water. I would implore all Texans when boating to wear their lifejackets, be aware of their surroundings and return home safely with their families.”

Several of TPWD newly created statewide law enforcement teams were deployed to assist local game wardens. The Lake Lewisville Dive Team, applying sonar technology located a drowning victim in Lake Lewisville. STORM (Statewide Forensics Reconstruction and Mapping Team) responded to and assisted with investigations involving four boating accidents involving death and serious injury.

CID (Criminal Investigations Division) responded to and assisted with investigation related to a boating accident. CIT (Critical Incident Team) conducted peer support for game wardens involved in a Jasper County boat accident in which a game warden sustained injuries.
Game wardens also responded to seven search and rescue situations and assisted local agencies during severe flash flooding in Val Verde, Lubbock, Archer, Medina, Uvalde and Medina counties.

“The work conducted by our game wardens over the weekend is a testament to their professionalism,” said Col. Craig Hunter, TPWD Director of Law Enforcement. Hunter noted that game wardens focused on ensuring public safety throughout the state’s waterways.

“Everyone must play a part in increasing water safety in Texas,” he said. “I urge every Texan to wear a life jacket while on our lakes, rivers, and bays. Last year in Texas nearly 85 percent of boating accident victims were not wearing life jackets.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” said Cody Jones, TPWD Assistant Commander for Marine Enforcement. “Wearing a life jacket increases your chances of surviving on the water and can prevent your trip from turning into a tragedy.”

State law requires that a personal floatation device is available for each occupant of the boat, but only children under 13 years of age are mandated by the law to wear one while the boat or paddle craft is underway or drifting. Despite this law, last year in Texas, more than 700 citations were issued for children not wearing a life jacket.

In 2013, 208 citations were issued in Texas to boaters who were intoxicated. And five of the state’s boating deaths in 2013 were alcohol-related, highlighting the importance of not drinking while operating a boat.

“If you want to drink before heading out on the water, remember to be responsible and assign a designated driver,” said Jones. “Wardens will be patrolling the waters and anyone found operating a boat while intoxicated will face possible arrest and time in jail.”

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Fishing Report from TPWD (Dec. 1)

GOOD. Water lightly stained; 58 degrees; 0.66 feet low. The fall bite is in full swing. Crappie are good on jigs and minnows relating to timber and brush in 12-30 feet of water. Bass are good with a topwater bite early, switching to jigs later in the day. Rely on heavy structures such as the boathouse, brush piles, bridges, and laydowns. Catfish are good on cut bait, chicken liver. You will catch bigger catfish on stinkbait.

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