TPWD issues statement on boy scout fatal sailboat accident

MARION COUNTY - The Texas Parks and Wildlife department announced it has completed its report of the accident that killed three boy scouts August 5 at Lake O' The Pines.

However, the accident involved juveniles, so TPWD has asked the Office of the Texas Attorney General to weigh in before releasing the report to the public, saying in part:

...state law prohibits TPWD from disclosing reports of accidents in which juveniles were seriously injured or killed other than to the parents of the accident victims and their legal representatives.

William Brannon, 17, 16-year-old Heath Fauchex and 11-year-old Thomas Larry were injured  August 5 when the mast of their catamaran collided with an overhead transmission power line. 

A Scout official says a Scout leader quickly reached the boat, but Brannon and Fauchex were already dead. Larry died from his injuries on Monday at LSU Hospital in Shreveport.

Below is the statement in full:

AUSTIN – The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department recently completed a report regarding a fatal sailboat accident on Lake O’ the Pines that resulted in the deaths of three Boy Scouts. The report was prepared by Texas Game Wardens who responded to this incident and by the agency’s statewide boating accident reconstruction and mapping team that handled the investigation.

Although TPWD has received a request for this report from the media, there are specific laws about what information TPWD can release regarding accidents involving juveniles, and to whom that information can be released. To ensure compliance with these laws, TPWD has requested an opinion from the Office of the Texas Attorney General.

According to previous opinions from the Texas Attorney General’s office, state law prohibits TPWD from disclosing reports of accidents in which juveniles were seriously injured or killed other than to the parents of the accident victims and their legal representatives. When releasing reports of accidents involving multiple juveniles to the parents of one accident victim, TPWD must exclude certain information about the other juveniles involved. An attorney for the family of one of the accident victims has requested the report regarding the Lake O’ the Pines accident, and TPWD is providing the report in response to that request, not including the confidential information about the other juveniles.

TPWD is a public safety agency that works to protect the interests of the public. TPWD must also respect the privacy of the grieving families of juvenile accident victims. TPWD appreciates the support and understanding of the citizens of northeast Texas in our efforts to protect public safety while respecting the privacy of the citizens we serve.

© 2017 KYTX-TV


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