Boerne Man Pulled Wednesday’s Drowning Victim Out of Canyon Lake, Rescued Three Others Still in the Water
The 22-year-old Boerne man who pulled Wednesday’s drowning victim out of Canyon Lake said he held the Houston man in his arms, on his jet ski, for 20 minutes until Canyon Lake Fire/EMS arrived on the scene in Marine 53, a rescue boat, around 2 p.m.
Also clinging to Jonathan Cox’s jet ski was a woman in her 20s that he plucked from the lake. She was holding the 34-year-old Houston man in her arms. Authorities have identified the man as David Alberto Guerra, who was pronounced dead by Comal County Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Tom Clark at 2:13 p.m.
Cox said today he does not know whether the man was unconscious or already dead at that time. After he managed to get the man onto his jet ski, Cox said he removed his own life jacket and put it on the man.
Comal County Sheriff’s Office Det. Rebekah Coons confirmed Thursday that rescuers responded to reports of a drowning after a 9-1-1 call came in around 1:30 p.m. She said the man who drowned was one of 17 people aboard a pontoon boat. It is believed he jumped off the boat to rescue others struggling to stay afloat in very high winds and choppy water.
After rescuers raced to shore with the man, Cox and the woman he rescued earlier jet-skied over to two other women who were still in the water some distance away.
The older of the two women was wearing a life jacket. The third woman was able to remain afloat by holding onto her, Cox said.
Cox ferried the three women to the shore near Canyon Park Road where Comal County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) deputies were standing on the rocks near the water.
“It was pretty traumatizing, but I’m glad I could save those other three girls because they weren’t in good shape either,” Cox said.
He returned to the pontoon boat to pick up the drowning victim’s brother and took him to shore.
Cox said he left soon afterward to give the man’s family some privacy.
“Honestly it was like a dream,” he said. “I can’t comprehend much more than that. I was just in the moment, doing what I could. I don’t really remember much more.”
Cox said those aboard the pontoon boat thanked him, saying they might all have drowned if he hadn’t come along.
“They said, ‘you were the last light of hope for us being stranded in that water.'”
Cox said he frequently jet skis on Canyon Lake, which he describes as dangerous, with a strong undertow.
He said he was riding his jet ski near the shore when he saw people on the pontoon frantically waving a red flag.
Cox said he made three 9-1-1 calls before rescuers arrived.
Canyon Lake Fire/EMS Assistant Chief Robert Mikel said rescuers thought they were responding to a drowning at Canyon Park and arrived on the scene six minutes after the first 9-1-1 call came in. Then, they were directed to “Millie’s Boat Ramp,” which isn’t on any maps of the lake. Shortly thereafter Mikel said paramedics were told the drowning was near Jacobs Creek.
Zack Pennell, the owner of Canyon Lake Adventures, confirmed Thursday that his company owns the pontoon boat involved in the incident. The family’s initial reservation with another outfitter was canceled due to unfavorable weather conditions, according to an anonymous source who works in a nearby water-related business.
On Wednesday, the U.S. National Weather Service for Austin-San Antonio reported widespread wind gusts of between 25 to 40 miles-per-hour in the Hill Country.
To read MyCanyonLake.com’s initial story about the incident, click here.