Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials said three people were seriously injured Sunday after two personal watercraft collided on Lake Texoma.
TPWD Game Warden Daron Blackerby said the incident occurred at approximately 2:15 p.m. near the Little Mineral arm of the lake in an area known as Deer Cove. Blackerby said a group of friends were operating five to six of the watercraft in the cove when one rider reportedly maneuvered his vehicle toward another.
“One of them was possibly trying to splash water on the other, by turning the wheel and cutting in front of the other,” Blackerby said. “That’s when the Jet Ski with a single rider crashed into one with three people on it and knocked them in the water.”
Blackerby said the three injured riders were pulled from the water by other members of the group and taken to Grandpappy Point Resort and Marina, where they were met by paramedics. The game warden said two of the victims, a 13-year-old child and a man in his early 20s, were transported to a local hospital by ambulance, while the third victim, a 26-year-old woman, was flown by helicopter to Medical City Plano.
“They were pretty serious,” Blackerby said of the injuries. “I know there were some fractured ribs for one rider, a broken jaw for another and a broken arm and head injuries for the female that was airlifted.”
While Blackerby said he did not immediately know the victims’ conditions Tuesday afternoon, all three were expected to recover. The driver who reportedly maneuvered toward the group was not hurt.
All riders were reportedly wearing life jackets at the time of the crash and Blackerby said alcohol was not believed to be a factor. Wardens recovered the the two damaged watercraft and Blackerby said they vessels would be inspected by TPWD’s State Forensic Reconstruction and Mapping (STORM) Team in the coming days.
The incident remains under investigation and Blackerby said the STORM Team’s findings would determine whether the operator of either vessel would be cited or criminally charged.
Blackerby said all personal watercraft riders are required by law to wear a life jacket and the driver must wear an engine-kill-switch lanyard attached to his or her wrist or preserver.
“There’s also a 50-foot rule that all personal watercraft operators must abide by,” Blackerby said. “That means you have to stay at least 50 feet away from any object in the water, whether its another Jet Ski, a dock, a boat, a kayak, stumps in the water, whatever. And all Jet Skis are required to yield.”
The game warden said while personal watercraft are desirable for their ease of use and high maneuverability, there can be serious risks and consequences for inexperienced and irresponsible riders.
“People need to realize the speed and power of a Jet Ski and that they don’t have brakes or stop just like that,” Blackerby said. “It takes time for them to sow down. Pay attention and take an extra moment to look around before you take off.”
Drew Smith is the crime and emergency reporter for the Herald Democrat. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.