Three Boy Scouts dead after sailing tragedy

Two Eagle Scouts were dead, an 11-year-old Scout was clinging to life and a small East Texas town was in shock and mourning Monday after a Catamaran the boys were sailing apparently hit a power line.

A sad update to this story:

AVINGER, Texas (AP) - A third Boy Scout has died from injuries suffered when a sailboat struck an overhanging power line on a lake east of Dallas.

Texas Parks & Wildlife spokesman Steve Lightfoot says the 11-year-old Scout died Monday. He was hospitalized in Shreveport, Louisiana, following the accident Saturday.

The boy was sailing in a catamaran with two older boys, one 17 and the other 16, when the mast struck the power line at Lake O'The Pines near Avinger, 150 miles (241 kilometers) from Dallas.

A Scout official says a Scout leader quickly reached the boat but the two teens were already dead.

It wasn't clear Monday why the power line was overhanging the water, in proximity to watercraft.

Upshur Rural Electric Cooperative, which owns the line, says it's cooperating with the investigation.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

ORIGINAL STORY: 

Two Eagle Scouts were dead, an 11-year-old Scout was clinging to life and a small East Texas town was in shock and mourning Monday after a Catamaran the boys were sailing apparently hit a power line.

More than 300 people turned out for a candlelight vigil in Hallsville, a town of about 3,500 people 140 miles east of Dallas. They paid homage to the teens, Will Brannon, 17, and Heath Faucheux, 16, and prayed that Thomas Larry, 11, would recover from injuries suffered in the tragedy Saturday.

"It's been a real shock to the community," Mayor Steve Eitelman told USA TODAY. "Kids, scouting, service to God and our country, that is what we are all about here."

Residents set up meal trains and a GoFundMe page for the families. Eitelman, who has lived in Hallsville for 35 years, said the entire town is involved.

"Their tragedy is our tragedy," Eitelman said. "We try to help. But I know I am powerless. The truth is it's in God's hands."

Lindsey Farnham's daughter marched in the Hallsville High School band with the victims. Farnham knew Will, knows his parents well.

"We've got meal trains set up, and we are coordinating with others to help with lawn maintenance, cleaning, anything the families might need," she said. "It's very humbling to see what people are will to do for each other here."

Preliminary investigations indicated the Scouts were electrocuted when their Hobiecat Catamaran collided with an overhead transmission line Saturday in Lake O' The Pines near Avinger, Texas Parks and Wildlife said in a statement

Game wardens arrived at the scene to find the Catamaran on fire with the sails up about 300 yards north of the power lines, the statement said.

"Absolute chaos," Capt. Quint Balkcom of Texas Parks and Wildlife told KLTV in Tyler, Texas. "This is a terrible event, it absolutely is."

Wardens discovered the older teen onboard and another in the water a short distance away. Both victims "suffered severe bodily injuries" and were dead at the scene, the statement said.

Thomas was found unresponsive in a boat nearby, with good Samaritans administering CPR. He was airlifted about 70 miles to LSU Medical Center-Shreveport in Louisiana. Spokesman William Strother said the hospital can't release updates on his condition because he is a minor.

Kelly Camp Weatherford, a friend of the Larry family, set up the GoFundMe page to help cover expenses for Thomas. It reached its $10,000 goal in 20 hours.

"Thomas is at LSU in Shreveport on life support," she wrote on the page. "They did a partial test for brain functions but they were negative. ... They are not very optimistic but there is a chance."

All three boys were wearing personal flotation devices at the time of the accident, the agency said.

Balkcom said the boat was impounded so investigators can get "a full picture of what happened in this horrendous event." Rob Walker, general manager of Upshur Rural Electric Cooperative, said the company was cooperating with the investigation.

"Our heartfelt prayers go out for all of the Scouts, their families, and for the community," Walker said in a statement. "We are working to determine what happened, and we are gathering facts as they become available." 

Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted: "A terrible tragedy. Our thoughts & prayers go out to the Boy Scouts & their families."

Dewayne Stephens, CEO of the Scouts' East Texas Area Council, issued a statement thanking emergency teams for their response.

"This is an extremely difficult time for our Scouting family," Stephens said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families. We will support them in any way that we can."

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment