Local Game Warden Urging Boater Safety

By: Nicole Morten Email
By: Nicole Morten Email

The body of a Crockett man has been sent off for an autopsy after he was found dead Monday morning in the Trinity River in Madison County. Fifty-one-year-old Clint Pyle was found floating 100 yards from his boat. According to officials, he was not wearing a life jacket and family members say he had a history of heart problems.

When your day begins at Gibbons Creek, you hope it ends with a newfound peace of mind; and if you're lucky: dinner.

"Oh yea, a big catch or a big bass or something,” said Zach Moreland. “But sometimes it doesn't matter if I catch anything because I'm still kayaking, and that’s what I enjoy the most."

Zach Moreland and his cousin have been coming to Gibbons Creek in Carlos for several years. He admits the two always come prepared.

"I've got my life jacket and I like it blue because it matches my kayak, and I’ve got my two fishing poles, my backpack, my waterproof box I keep my iPhone in just in case we overturn," he explained.

Increased activity on the water means a heavier workload for Game Warden's like Christopher Lasiter especially when safety takes a backseat.

“It can get busy this time of year, and it was a busy one on Lake Conroe this weekend,” Lasiter said. “One of the main things people overlook is their life saving devices. They may have them on the boat, but they stow them away in holes or compartments in the boat, which doesn't make them readily accessible.”

According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, in 2010, the department recorded 152 boating accidents and 27 fatalities in the state. It’s being reported 85 % of those who died while boating weren't wearing life jackets.

“It very well can be lethal, we see it every day on every lake in the state of Texas,” he said. “When you have a boating accident or get thrown out of a boat, it's kind of hard to grab a life vest if you have it stuck in a compartment. Also, alcohol and boating are two things that just don’t mix. You can drink and have fun in the boat, but make sure you get a designated driver. A lot of fatalities in the State of Texas are due to drinking and driving; it's exactly what we stress on the road."

"I flipped one time, like recently like last month, me and him did, because he flipped his, and the way it happened when if flipped the kayak, stuff started falling out of the kayak and it started filling up with water,” said Moreland.

“If we drive by and see that the boater isn't wearing a life vest, we'll stop and find out if he has a life vest somewhere handy that he can get to,” said Lasiter. “We also look for other things every boater is required to have like: fire extinguisher, certificate of number, horns and whistles."

While Moreland admits he is a strong swimmer, he knows his life vest provided comfort during a potentially dangerous situation.

“I had my life jacket on,” he added. “I was able to stay afloat and I could move things in and out of the kayak, so it definitely made it easier.”

Safety -- It is something that Moreland says will never take a backseat during any adventure on the water.

It is still unclear the exact cause of Clint Edward Pyle's death. State law requires life vests inside the boat for every person, and children 13 and younger are required at all times to wear life jackets while on board.

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