Aggie Missing, Nine Students Injured After Boating Accident

By: Kristen Ross Email
By: Kristen Ross Email

One Aggie is missing, while nine other students are just grateful to be alive after a horrific boating accident in Corsicana.

It happened over the weekend on Richland Chambers Lake in Navarro County.

Search teams combed the waters Monday for the driver of the boat who disappeared from his group after being trapped in the cold water for several hours.

"Just for the end of finals, get out of town," Kirbi Gayle said, explaining why the group was out on the lake.

Chase Bergfeld and nine other students traded in their books Friday for a night of fun on a Corsicana lake.

"We were on our way back from the restaurant when the accident happened," Gayle explained.

That's when Kirbi Gayle says the night took a turn for the worse.

The boat hit a stump in the water, flipping it, and throwing everyone into the water.

"We yelled for help for a long time and we realized nobody could hear us," Gayle said.

"We all went numb about 30 minutes into the whole experience with our arms and legs, and so we were so tired from paddling," Chelsie Plengemeyer said.

But Chelsie Plengemeyer says the group of ten students managed to pull themselves out of the cold water to sit on the bottom of the boat.

It was Chase's voice the girls remember encouraging them to paddle on.

"He was like look how close we are, look how close we have come," Gayle said. "The lights are getting closer."

At one point the trapped students say Chase decided to try and push the boat to safety, while encouraging the group everything would be alright.

But the cold temperatures and even colder water began to take its toll on the group, especially Chase.

"He wasn't talking to us like he usually talks to us, or how he had been talking to us--he was slowing down," LeeAnn Papst said.

Two students then attempted to swim ashore for help. The others grouped together to wait it out, then without any warning, Chase just vanished.

"We were all going crazy, all going nuts, we really thought it was the end then," Plengemeyer said.

But just about thirty minutes later, hope was in the distance, and the other nine students were able to make it safely ashore..

"I feel very lucky, the whole time I felt like I was on the Titanic and I was going to die," Papst said.

Now the rest of the group, safe and back on dry land remembers their friend who helped them through their scariest night.

"Chase was a brave, brave guy and he had an awesome heart, and all he cared about was everyone else," Gayle said.

Chase's friends have set up a Facebook page called Pray for Chase Bergfeld, where they're asking people to pray not only for Chase but also his family and friends during this difficult time.

Many friends have already left messages there dubbing Chase a hero.

The Navarro County Sheriff's Office says Bergfeld is still missing, and that Texas Parks and Wildlife is heading up the search.

Officials with Texas Parks and Wildlife say weather has hampered search efforts, but say they'll be out on the lake everyday until Bergfeld or his body is found.

Investigators say alcohol may have been a factor in the accident, but say they don't know to what extent.

In all, five A&M students, four Blinn students, and a Dallas area student were aboard the boat at the time of the crash. The group says they were celebrating the end of finals the night the accident occurred.

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