Accident Database

Report ID# 2475

  • PFD Not Worn or Present
  • Does not Apply
  • Inexperience
  • One Boat Trip

Accident Description

Two teens survived a trip through dam which was closed due to flood waters

(boater ban is in effect).

The canoeists didn't realize they were in trouble Tuesday morning until they drifted dangerously close to the open floodgates at Longhorn Dam, emergency officials said. Krystal Davenport, 19, and Marion Pollard, 17, both from the Waco area, rented the canoe from Hostelling International, where they had spent the night, officials said. They paddled for about 30 minutes on Town Lake, which was closed to boats after recent heavy rains in Central Texas, before noticing that they were moving toward the dam, police said. "They tried to paddle away," Austin Park Police Sgt. Michael Hart said in a police report. But "the harder they paddled, the more they went in circles." So they jumped out of the boat and tried to swim to shore just before 10:40 a.m., police said. But both were sucked under water and didn't surface until they passed through the metal gates of the dam and dropped a few feet into the swirling water below, police said.

A witness called emergency officials and said she saw one of the teens surface immediately and get swept downstream, Austin-Travis County Emergency Services spokesman Warren Hassinger said. The other woman got caught in spillway turbulence for several minutes before being pushed along, Hassinger said. When emergency officials got to the dam, the teens had disappeared. A little farther down the Colorado River, Davenport found Pollard hanging to a tree branch and swam toward her, the report said. They climbed out of the water and called police from a home in the 3200 block of East Cesar Chavez Street, about a half-mile downstream, the report said.

"I would call it extremely lucky that they were able to make it over the spillway without getting injured and then were able to pull themselves to shore," Austin Fire Department Spc. Gary Wilks said. The canoeists later told park police that they did not know that Town Lake was closed to boats, according to the report. The teens also told emergency officials that there were no life jackets in their canoe, Hassinger said.

A representative for the hostel, at 2200 S. Lakeshore Blvd., would not comment on the teens' statements Tuesday. Julie Westerman, an employee at the hostel, told police she did not know the lake was closed when she rented the canoe to the teens, the report said. Both teens were taken to Brackenridge Hospital and later released, officials said. Spokesman Victor Ovalle of the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department said park police are investigating the incident.

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