AUSTIN (KXAN) — A man has been arrested after he allegedly struck a Texas Game Warden patrol boat on Lake Travis.
According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, Silsbee resident Rodney G. Barefield, 56, was arrested by game wardens Thursday night after he allegedly hit the wardens’ patrol boat near Mile Marker 16 on Lake Travis between Lakeway Marina and Point Venture.
Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Law Enforcement Director Grahame Jones told KXAN two wardens and an intern suffered “bruising, substantial bruising, [and] minor scratches.”
Barefield is charged with a third degree felony boating while intoxicated. He has three prior convictions for BWI/DWI.
“Our game wardens were extremely lucky to avoid serious injuries as a result of this wreck,” said Jones as he showed KXAN the damage.
Jones explained, the wardens saw Barefield’s boat coming. They had just seconds to react.
“Really it’s a testament to our game wardens’ actions who put this boat in reverse immediately prior to impact,” Jones said. “So if that impact had occurred just a few feet back, it would’ve been right on top of our officers.”
Texas Boating Law Administrator Cody Jones said game wardens regularly patrol lakes, but they had stepped up patrols over Fourth of July as part of a national initiative called “Operation Dry Water.”
“Since its inception in 2009, we’ve arrested over 3,500 folks during the 3-day weekend nationwide,” Jones said.
He said in Texas they arrest about 350 people every year for boating while intoxicated.
“Drunk boating and drunk driving, and drunk driving is drunk boating,” Jones said. “You will lose your driver’s license. You will go to jail. You’ll find yourself with significant fines and hefty consequences.”
About four million people hit Texas waters annually according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association.
In 2017, alcohol or drug use was the primary cause of 13 percent of deadly boating incidents. Last year, it jumped to 19 percent.