Two deaths in separate accidents on Lake LBJ

Connie Swinney/Burnet Bulletin
One of two reported fatalities in three days on Lake LBJ occurred near a congested area of the waterway, just off FM 1431 in Kingsland. On July 11 a woman's body was found floating in the vicinity of a personal watercraft authorities believe may have been involved in an accident. On July 14, game warden recovered the body of a Sarita man a few miles downstream from that area in the Legends subdivision.






By Connie Swinney
Staff Writer

Burnet Bulletin

Texas Parks and Wildlife officials recovered two bodies in three days and unveiled the possible cause of death in the unrelated boating incidents over the weekend along the Colorado River on Lake LBJ.

The most recent death involved a 44-year-old Sarita man who was the operator of a boat on the Colorado arm of Lake LBJ in the area of Legends on Lake LBJ subdivision.

According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, Jesse Marcus (Marc) Estes' body was recovered the morning of Sunday, July 14. Officials reported he had been involved in an accident two days earlier on Friday, July 12. 

“He hit a wave, and it threw him out of the boat,” TP&W Capt. Cody Hatfield said. “He was turning the boat and he hit a wave wrong; two other people were ejected.” 

The two passengers were not injured. 

A dive team, boats equipped with sonar, TP&W game wardens and a K9 unit searched for the victim. The K9 unit located Estes in the same area where the accident occurred, according to a TP&W press release.

Assisting agencies included Horseshoe Bay Police Department, Burnet County Sheriff's Office and Lower Colorado River Authority Rangers. Volunteer fire agencies from Cassie, Lake Buchanan, Kingsland, Sunrise Beach and Hoover's Valley also assisted with the search. 

“The search and recovery effort was complicated by several factors, including: high boat traffic in the area of the lake where the incident occurred, as well as numerous underwater obstacles, such as man-made debris, large rocks and other natural features that limited sonar effectiveness and diver visibility,” TP&W Spokesman Steve Lightfoot said in a statement.

Estes' body was eventually found amongst boulders underneath the surface, Hatfield said.

The victim was pronounced dead by the Burnet County Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace Roxanne Nelson. No autopsy was ordered.

Just a few days earlier on July 11, Llano County dispatchers received a call about a woman found unresponsive, floating in the water wearing a life jacket on Lake LBJ in Kingsland.

Authorities identified her as 50-year-old Karen Rodgers Mykleby of Lubbock.

“Texas game wardens also found a personal watercraft nearby that they suspect the victim may have been riding at the time,” according to a TP&W press release. “An autopsy was ordered and the preliminary report of the autopsy indicated that the victim suffered a medical emergency and succumbed to that emergency causing her death.”

Hatfield said healthcare professionals may not be able to tell whether she suffered the emergency before or after she came off the personal watercraft.

“We know she had been riding a jet ski. We don't think she hit anything,” Hatfield said. “All we know is that the cause of death is a medical emergency.

“We don't know if the medical emergency happened before or after,” he added.

 The victim was pronounced dead by Llano County Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace Bebe Piatt.

The female victim's body was located a few miles downstream of the other incident on the arm of the Colorado River adjacent to the FM 1431 bridge at the confluence of Lake LBJ. Her body was within eyesight of a large sand bar island created following October flooding.

The recent deaths are the second and third on Lake LBJ in 2019. The first one occurred on June 26 on the Colorado River arm of the waterway near the community of Legends on Lake LBJ in Kingsland, when 20-year-old Robert Platt, Jr. of Sugarland died in a boat crash.

As the thermometer has risen this summer season, so have the number of boaters on the waterway in the Kingsland area. Lake residents have noticed a spike in visitors since the Fourth of July.

The incidents have residents concerned about the amount of boating traffic and potential danger of water hazards in the Kingsland area.

Hannah Tollefson, a resident of the Llanorado RV Park, said she considers certain areas to be “dangerous,” since the October flood deposited debris and created sand bars nearby.

“I think people who come on vacation who haven't been here for the floods, they're just not as aware of the real danger that it is,” Tollefson said.

Natural and man-made debris, structures and sand deposits which did not wash downstream during the flood may lurk beneath the surface.

“There are buoys on both sides. I know that LCRA has done a lot to put signs up,” she said, “but (boaters) could be drinking, or they could just be oblivious to what has happened out there.

“It's not a place where you can still wakeboard and drive crazy around it,” she said. “It's fun, we just got to make sure people stay safe around it.”

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