AUSTIN (KXAN) — Emergency crews have called off the search for a missing man in Lake Austin near the Loop 360 bridge after two fishing boats collided Tuesday night.
Austin police believe everyone involved is accounted for and left the scene. The person that was the focus of the search was seen crawling and running away from the lake. Police are now looking for him on land.
A man in his 50s was taken to Dell Seton Hospital by STAR Flight helicopter with serious injuries. A third person has minor injuries and was not taken to the hospital, Austin-Travis County EMS said.
“He lost his right arm and right leg,” said a family member of the 50-year-old victim, who did not want to be identified. “He’s an avid boater. He went out on the water almost every night. He and his friends, they would go out on the lakes.”
The Austin Fire Department and ATCEMS were dispatched to the area south of the Loop 360 bridge, also known as the Pennybacker Bridge, at 7:55 p.m. Tuesday.
Firefighters first made contact with one of the boats involved in the crash at 8:11 p.m. Officials were told by a witness that someone got out of the boat and swam to shore.
“We’d like to know what happened and to get down to the bottom of it,” said the victim’s unidentified family member.
When the boats crashed, people living along the Lake Austin shoreline heard screaming and called 911. Divers searched the water and an Austin police helicopter helped with thermal imaging to pick up any body heat in the water.
The frigid water temperature and pitch black night are two reasons why Lake Austin boaters like Matt Lowery stay off of the lake in winter.
“Fish bite all year long but I don’t like to be out here in the winter at night,” Lowery said. “You have to be very careful. Always wear a life jackets and make sure you have the boat well lit at night.”
In October 2015, a boat crashed into a construction barge along Lake Austin at 40 mph and killed two people, including the boat’s driver. Toxicology results revealed the driver Shawn Hurwitz, 50, had a Blood Alcohol Content of 0.27, more than three times the legal limit.