Missing kayaker in Austin

-- Last Updated: May-13-09 2:08 PM EST --

A 21 year-old kayaker went missing on Lake Austin last night around midnight, and his kayak was found heavily damaged and partially submerged, apparently the product of a boater hit-and-run. The young man is presumed dead, not having been found in 12 hours.

This happened about 100 yards from my house.

Safety first! This guy was probably not showing any lights. . . .


You might want to cross-post in the
Paddlers Discussion forum, unless you’re asking for advice on how to find him.

what a terrible tragedy!..
I think this needs to be posted on any and every possible forum that paddlers might read. This May, is safe boater month and this is a lesson to which all of us should give some thought. I can only image the pain of this paddler’s family right now.


Have we asked ourselves whether
the family of the deceased, or the deceased himself if he were to come here for “Advice, Suggestions, and General Help,” would WANT this posted all around the internet?

Isn’t it perhaps disrespectful to discuss someone none of us knows personally? I have written up a number of deaths that occurred in the SE and published them in our newsletter. In 2/3 of the cases I knew the victim personally, or knew the victim’s family. Usually I had information as to how my account of the event would impact the bereaved.

The typical pattern on paddling.net is that someone comes in, under a handle most of us would not recognise, and puts some links on the first forum encountered (which happens to be the wrong one) about a victim and family not personally known to him or her, and probably not even remotely familiar.

Then there is a long discussion and sometimes argument about what the victim should have done, or someone else should have done, to prevent what happened. If it could have been prevented.

This is to be repeated on every available forum, and without a thought as to the feelings of the family?

Even on the notorious Boatertalk, usually there is a link, and then people express their sorrow for the victim and family. Seldom is there a discussion about shoulda-coulda-woulda.

American Whitewater Association publishes, once a year, Charlie Wallbridge’s statistics and his accounts of deaths or serious incidents and why they occurred. This happens MONTHS after each incident so that these accounts do not grate on the feelings of the family.

Body found. . .
this afternoon, they found him, deceased.

Pretty sad.

I manage the kayak racks at our homeowners’ park on Lake Austin, and there were about 5 TV news crews down there this afternoon, and the president of our board chased them off so that our association’s kayakers wouldn’t be associated with this tragedy. The young man didn’t come from our park, he launched from a private home on the lake – in the middle of the night.

"… or the deceased himself if he were to come here for “Advice, Suggestions, and General Help,” would WANT this posted all around the internet?"

are we talking zombies? They are more likely to be looking for brains to eat than paddling advice, I’d think.

bah dum bah!

hard to say what happened

– Last Updated: May-13-09 9:42 PM EST –

the news accounts don't say whether he had a light etc so its just speculation at this time--and point of fact, in New England night paddles (with lights) are common and not considered dangerous---I got the sense from your post that it is considered an unduly risky thing to do in Texas

I appreciate g2d
as he’s the only person on p.net more anal than me

oh, so wrong

G2d wrote:

“Have we asked ourselves whether the family of the deceased … would WANT this posted all around the internet? Isn’t it perhaps disrespectful to discuss someone none of us knows personally?”

Gee, I was just picking on you the other day for being grumpy, and here you make this nice, feeling, almost human-sounding post :slight_smile:

And yet I have to object strongly, even more than I would to any of your grumpy posts, because this is a pet peeve of mine. I just want to preface this by saying I’m sorry to aim my diatribe at you, g2d. I don’t mean anything personal. I know many people feel this same way, it just happened to be your post that I noticed when I felt inclined to give my opinion.

This argument comes up a lot and is frequently effective in suppressing discussion of boater accidents. No one wants to add to the suffering of the family, and so it is a pretty easy choice to value the hypothetical feelings of loved ones over our natural desire to discuss accidents that may happen to us as well one day. Hence, boater accidents get far less coverage than they should, and people keep making the same mistakes over and over.

In my opinion, this argument is so wrong that I try to respond every time I see it, even if it makes me look like a hard-hearted SOB. In short, we need MORE discussion of boater accidents, much more. If it facilitates discussion to dehumanize the victim, then so be it. People should be free to recommend “Darwin awards” and call the victim stupid and anything else they think about an accident, regardless of how that might make a victim’s relative feel. Rather, victim relatives should be advised not to frequent technical activity-oriented discussion boards while in their grieving phase.

The argument is wrong in exactly the same way as it was wrong, early in the AIDS epidemic, for families to suppress news of the cause of death when someone died of AIDS. Because of the association with homosexuality, families were frequently reluctant to have the true cause published, and this is one of the main factors which allowed the epidemic to take hold. Today, millions of people are dying of AIDS thanks to over-sensitivity to the feelings of a few victim relatives in the past.

The numbers of boating deaths from the same cause are far less, but they are just as real.

easily avoidable
Isn’t this the second such death this year? I seem to remember a 14-year-old boy with similar circumstances - family had a home on the lake and he launched from his own yard?

Once seemed like a freak occurence, but twice is getting eerie, especially when it’s a fairly easy thing to avoid, IMO. We need to spread the word. Sure, lights, and knowing navigation channels and common courtesy all play a role in the bigger picture, but when push comes to shove, there’s a basic rule to follow here.

If a speed boat is bearing down on you and doesn’t seem to see you and he gets close to you, turn your canoe to face it, and sit there until he is right on top of you. You can yell and wave if you wish, but focus your attention on seeing him and determining his course. Odds are, he’ll be off to one side or the other, but in the rare case where he is not, you only need one stroke of the paddle to turn your nose away. You will capsize from a glancing blow, but you won’t be killed, and assuming you have your PFD on all will be well.

Think about it the other way - what if you were in a speed boat and you wanted to run over a canoer? Do you realize how hard it would be if the canoer faced you and took evasive action as described above? It would be nearly impossible.

Both of these unfortunate accidents almost certainly had to be broadside hits. Both probably could have saved themselves by turning their boats to point at the oncoming boat.

No, you’re blowing smoke.
Most of these discussions, done on the wrong board and prior to definitive data, end up being like Nancy Grace works over bad mother Casey on HLN. That’s why any family might find it offensive.

Was he all mangled like his boat?
Did he drown? Was he drunk? Did he have a PFD? Was hi boat licensed? Please fill in as the details emerge, original poster, so that we can all learn what happened rto this hapless boater paddling in the dark in the middle of the night.

Be hard to see if you faced oncoming boa

Don’t blame the victim
The main factor in the aids epidemic was not the families fault.

I think you are trying to make some good points but you are lacking in knowledge of how this occurred. In this case a lack of knowledge can inadvertently result in blaming the victims of an oppressed and discriminated and marginilized group what everything.

Maybe I and all of us should follow the responsible balance and careful methods of Sea Kayaker safety articles which are respectful

Factual and help with lessons learned all at thesame time

You’re right, speculation. . . .
It’s true that it’s speculation about what happened to this young man, although he did appear to be out late at night in a kayak on Lake Austin, and the kayak was found damaged and submerged.

As to whether these things should be discussed at all, it’s worth taking note of things people should remember to paddle safely. Especially if there are new paddlers looking at this forum. I know a lot of paddlers who don’t know that you can put lights on a kayak, or that you should if you’re out in the dark. This isn’t a matter of “blaming the victim,” but of taking lessons away from people who have had a tragic experience.

If it were my son…
If it were my son/husband/brother, I probably wouldn’t choose to read these postings, BUT I would like to think that others might learn from his mistakes and avoid another tragedy.

Just as many years ago, when my brother died from leukemia, my parents allowed an autopsy so that the researchers might learn something to help others. They chose not to receive the results because it would be much too painful…but it helped them to think that they may have helped spare others the pain they experienced. And looking at the improved survival rate now, I like to think it did help!

So, hopefully, these postings will be aimed at helping others learn from tragic mistakes.

Hmmm, no more news that I can find. No mention in any of the reports about a possible boat collision. One way to interpret the delay is that they are pursuing a hit-and-run power boater and feel they are close and so have asked for a news blackout.

Also, regarding the PC-ness of discussing boating accidents when relatives might be offended, and the argument that info is often wrong in early discussions -

My response is that it doesn’t matter if we get the info wrong. It must be emphasized that safety discussions are not about the actual accident or the actual people involved (which is why relatives should not be offended), but about the possible risks to ourselves as represented by a recent event. If we get the facts wrong in a discussion, but it’s still a valid risk and some people learn how to handle/avoid the risk that is discussed, then we’ve still accomplished the goal of making living paddlers safer.

where it happened
BTW, here’s a pic of where it happened.


The lake here is riverine and has a current. It is not much more than 100 yards across, with solid houses on one side and isolated houses on the other side. People heard screaming and someone in the water calling for help. That makes me think if there was a collision, there could easily have been a shore witness, and maybe the police are suppressing news reports so the perpetrator relaxes his guard.

Let me just say that on pnet, much heat
and little light has been shed by such discussions. Makes sense, because they start before the facts are available.

I used to have to participate as an investigator and discussant in reviews of unexpected deaths at our hospital. These were often rather meaningless because we had to conduct the reviews before autopsies were available.

I think we have to own up to why we discuss these things. It’s gossip. It goes back to “Games People Play” and the game is “Ain’t It Awful?”

we paddled that a coupl
My wife and I paddled that lake a couple of years ago in a Necky Armaluk (training for the Yukon race). Started in downtown austin at a ramp just above the dam and paddled until we got about five miles from Lake travis dam. then turned around and went back.

Started in the morning with very little river trafic. by mid afternoon it was like being on a two lane highway for boats. Not much of a current. I remember we took a short break at that ‘emma long’ park.