LAKE TRAVIS, Texas (KXAN) — A man who died in boating accident on Lake Travis Sunday night did not see the shoreline, Texas Parks and Wildlife confirms.
A spokesperson says the boater hit the shore at around 9:45 p.m. near Hurst Harbor and was injured. He was then taken to a local hospital where he died. Texas Parks and Wildlife says no alcohol was involved.
According to the man’s best friend, who says he was driving a boat in front of the victim at the time of the crash, he hit a rock peninsula that was sticking out of the water.
“There’s no gradual warning that something’s changing there,” said the friend, who did not want to be identified until the victim’s name is officially released. “It’s just a rock wall that comes straight out of the bottom.”
The friend says he and the victim and their families went out on the lake regularly and were familiar with the area. He says generally when the water level is up, the rock wouldn’t be jutting out as far as it is. He says they were staying close to the shore to avoid a sandbar on the other side of the lake.
“It wasn’t recklessness, it wasn’t negligence, we weren’t flying. We were doing the same thing we’ve done many times before,” said the friend, who also explained they were both going around 20 mph.
He says when the victim’s boat hit the rock, his chest went into the steering wheel, tearing his aorta. Two other people on the boat, the man’s wife and the friend’s 4-year-old daughter, only had minor wounds.
The victim’s friend says he feels the crash could’ve been prevented if the spot would have been marked with buoys like some other areas in the lake.
“If we do it for a sandbar, why not a rock abutment that’s in the water?” he asked. “To put out two, three flashing buoys in that area, you know with a hazard, that’s all you need.”
A spokesperson for the LCRA said in general, the organization marks historical hazards and the deep-water channel with solar-powered hazard buoys. While the LCRA has not recently lowered the lake’s water levels, levels tend to fall during the summer because of evaporation and increased water usage. Records show the water in Lake Travis was sitting at 673.47 feet above sea level on Sunday.
The victim’s friend said he hopes the LCRA will place buoys around the rock peninsula, to avoid anyone else having to deal with what he and the man’s family are going through. He describes his friend as a one-of-a-kind person, who was extraordinarily generous.
“He was an amazing man,” he said. “I could never do justice to the kind of person he was…. We just love him, and I know he’s going to be incredibly missed.”