Third boy scout dies after sailing accident in East Texas

HALLSVILLE, TEXAS - 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 11-year-old Thomas Larry died Monday. He was hospitalized in Shreveport, Louisiana, following the accident Saturday.
           
The boy was sailing in a catamaran with two Eagle Scouts, 17-year-old Will Brannon and 16-year-old Heath Faucheux, when the mast struck the power line at Lake O'The Pines, about 150 miles from Dallas.
           
A Scout official says a Scout leader quickly reached the boat but the two teens were already dead.

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

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

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

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

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.

Sunday night, more than 300 people turned out for a candlelight vigil in Hallsville, where the boys lived.

"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."

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."

 

 

 

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