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Lake & Rivers Local News

Thirty-Four-Year-Old Houston Man Drowns in Canyon Lake Trying to Save Family Members

All images courtesy of an anonymous source who witnessed the aftermath of the drowning and does not wish to be identified.

A 34-year-old Houston man drowned in Canyon Lake Wednesday after he jumped off a pontoon boat to rescue family members struggling to stay afloat in high winds and choppy water.

Comal County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Det. Rebekah Coons said today that CCSO responded to initial reports of a drowning around 1:30 p.m.

She confirmed the man, whose name has not yet been released, was one of 17 people aboard the pontoon. He was able to get two people back on the boat, with the help of an unidentified witness, before drowning.

Coons said she could not provide further details.

CCSO has not released an official report. Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) Game Warden Javier Fuentes, who works in the Law Enforcement Division for Region V, said game wardens also are working on a report. TPWD will spearhead the investigation.

Zack Pennell, the owner of Canyon Lake Adventures, confirmed today his company owns the pontoon boat involved in the incident.

An employee of another water-related business who wishes to remain anonymous said he heard the family initially reserved a boat from a different outfitter but was told winds were too high to safely take a boat out on the water. Instead, they leased a pontoon boat from Canyon Lake Adventures.

Although he did not see the drowning occur, the witness said he was on the shore when a Canyon Lake Adventures employee on a jet ski towed the pontoon boat backward to an area around Boat Ramp #17. The boat became adrift after the key broke off in its ignition and the family was unable to turn the engine back on and return to shore.

The witness also said that an unofficial report he saw indicates the drowned man was trying to rescue his two children and that everyone else aboard the vessel were members of the same family.

A man on a jet ski helped the father safely get the children back on the boat, he said. However, he was unable to reach the father in time.

It is unclear whether anyone on the pontoon boat was wearing life jackets.

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.

Canyon Lake drowning

Canyon Lake drowning

Canyon Lake drowning

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  1. Pat June 3, 2021

    I agree with previous response, 17 people is over the limit. I have been boating on a pontoon for 18 yrs now and 14 would be max and most likely with weight of gear would be 12. This is a terrible lost, but it goes to what i have been saying for past few years, people who have no knowledge of boats are using and/or buying boats and have not taken any safety classes and/or been taught how to use a boat ramp to launch and load a boat. Also having a vehicle capable of pulling the boat. More people are “hanging out at the boat ramps” while others are waiting too long. Then they are overloading their boat with friends and family. The kids should not have needed saving if they were wearing life jackets and is so the father should have put on a life jacket first in rough water beforehand. I pray others learn from this and this never happens again. I have been boating on Canyon lake for over 25 years and boating in high winds should not be done. There is always another day. Canyon Lake is an awesome lake. But I would like to see more supervision at the boat ramps and Canyon lake Adventures has civil liability.

  2. Mary April 1, 2021

    Why don’t they check into Canyon Lake Adventures, They just had a tragedy on the water last summer.
    They need to be checked out like all the rest of the people.

  3. SMG March 22, 2021

    Condolences to this family. Several questions though – why in the world would you put 17 people on this pontoon boat? If one company canceled due to high winds, wouldn’t that be a clue you might want to reconsider going out on the lake? Also, I do wonder how many life jackets were onboard.

  4. Anonymous March 19, 2021

    the kids were taken to safety at the shore to the sheriffs not back to the boat. The man was held out of the water on the jet ski platform for 15-20 minutes before any help could get there. Once marine 53 took him the other 2 were recovered.

    1. cordie l ray March 20, 2021

      Pleas elaborate who was taken where when, what you wrote bears little resemblance to what the article seems to say, at least to me. Thanks

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