Boaters emphasize safety after fatal Lake Fork boat crash - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Boaters emphasize safety after fatal Lake Fork boat crash

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© Courtesy: Jinger Bibbee © Courtesy: Jinger Bibbee

LAKE FORK (KYTX) -  Investigators are still trying to figure out exactly how two boats crashed into each other, killing two people and leaving a child injured.

It happened around 8:30 Monday night, near the 515 East bridge on Lake Fork in Wood County. Game wardens say beyond this bridge, there are buoys that line up into what are called boat lanes. They say the two boats were in those lanes when they crashed.

"There was one witness that was actually on the lake that heard the crash and immediately turned to see it and actually gave aid to the victims," says Captain Game Warden Quint Balkcom. 

The Wood County Sheriff's Department confirms that a 12-year-old child was rescued, but it was too late to save the two adults involved.

"Both operators were killed in the crash and then one juvenile was injured severely and care-flighted to Dallas for treatment," Balkcom says.

Now, Balkcom and his crews are trying to figure out what happened.

"It's still to early to say what went wrong. Once we come to the culmination of our facts we'll be able to decide if speed was a factor or any of the other elements that are typically seen in crashes," Balkcom says.

Tuesday morning, boater Wade Bibbee and his wife Jinger of caught a glimpse of one boat
from the accident.

"One of the boats is tied up," Bibbee says. "It's upside down and it's tied up to a stump. Just everything's hanging. You can tell they hit really hard."

The eerie sight directs Bibbee's mind to safety, especially with July 4th this week.

"Just like on the highway, you have to give way," Bibbee says. "There's kill switches in all these boats and you need to have those attached so if something happens it will automatically shut the engine off."

He's preparing in every way possible, to prevent another tragedy.

If you're headed out to any lake this 4th of July holiday, you need to have a life jacket for every single person on board. Everyone under the age of 13 on board needs to wear those life jackets the whole time you're on the water. You also need to have a floatation device on board to throw out to someone in case someone is drowning.

Balkcom says it's extremely important for boaters to stay inside those boat lanes to avoid a crash, especially when lake levels are so low. 

He says this is the first fatal boat crash in East Texas this year. 
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