Holiday weekend deadly in county

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Ron Baselice/The Dallas Morning News
A sign warning of the risk of drowning is shown at Lewisville Lake recently.

Memorial Day weekend was deadly in Denton County, according to law enforcement officials.

Denton County recorded its first drowning of the season in a boat mishap on Lewisville Lake, and two people died in a motorcycle accident in Lewisville.

Denton police made 13 arrests on charges of driving while intoxicated and wrote 15 citations on charges of public intoxication from 7 a.m. Friday, May 23, to 7 a.m. Tuesday, according to police.

Statewide figures were not available, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. But 24 people have drowned or been fatally injured in water-related accidents since May 9 in Texas, among the highest number of fatalities in recent years, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials.

Local safety efforts apparently got a boost from the rainy Memorial Day weather, which kept the number of boaters down from previous years. The low lake levels caused by the persistent drought also likely contributed to the fewer number of boats on area lakes, officials said.

The drowning on Lewisville Lake was reported May 23, after 31-year-old Blake Taylor of Little Elm went into the water after his boat began having trouble.

Game Warden Daron Blackerby said dive teams from the Lewisville Fire Department and the Texas Parks and Wildlife joined others in searching for two days before pulling Taylor’s body from the water shortly before noon Sunday.

Blackerby said the search was hampered at times by boating traffic, which started to pick up May 24.

“We were also working with six other agencies ticketing and issuing citations at the lake,” he said this week. “It was still pretty low. I estimated only about 50 tickets, warnings and citations combined were issued from all of us. ... There just wasn’t a whole lot of boating activity and we were busy in the search.”

The state’s dive team has been active for about two years and the team’s sonar was helpful in locating Taylor’s body, Blackerby said.

Denton County had 13 drowning-related deaths in 2013, with nine of those drownings in area lakes, said Troy Taylor, chief death investigator for Denton County.

In addition to water fatalities, two people were killed in Denton County over the holiday weekend in a motorcycle accident, officials said.

Bradley Duane Kindheart, 44, and Angeline Davis Watson, 39, both of Lewisville, were killed instantly after Kindheart apparently lost control of their motorcycle in the 1800 block of South Interstate 35E on May 24, Lewisville police said.

Another motorcycle accident killed two people Sunday afternoon just across the Denton County border in Wise County.

Thomas Garcia, 53, and Cassie Turner, 33, both from Ardmore, Okla., were killed while riding late Sunday afternoon. Sgt. Lonny Haschel, spokesman for the Texas Highway Patrol, said the accident occurred when a vehicle driving the wrong way on FM51 struck a trio of motorcycles. Five other people were injured in the accident.

The accidents brought renewed warnings from state troopers for drivers to watch for motorcyclists.

In 2013, 494 motorcyclists died in crashes across the state, compared to 470 motorcycle-related deaths in 2012.

MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.


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