Lewisville Lake

Lewisville Lake

Derrick Applon’s dad was one of the first people to spot his body.

Mike Applon was riding on a bass-fishing boat with two close colleagues Tuesday afternoon around the Hidden Cove Park area of Lewisville Lake. His 24-year-old son Derrick had been missing since Sunday afternoon, when it was reported he had gone underwater. The personal watercraft he was on flipped, sending him into the water without a life jacket, state game wardens said.

Sometime around 3:36 p.m. Tuesday, one of the men in the boat noticed something floating near the surface about 30 yards away. Game wardens and Lewisville fire authorities were taking a break from their searching. The men in the boat headed over to the area. What they’d seen floating was Derrick’s body.

His father, it was reported, let out some screams. One of the men on the boat grabbed Mike, and they headed back to shore, dropping off Mike with other family members before heading back out to Derrick. One of the men tied a flotation device around Derrick’s body so it wouldn’t sink back down.

Family and friends on shore had already begun calling 911. Game warden Kyle Allison said the authorities arrived about an hour later, around 4:45 p.m., to recover Derrick’s body from the water.

Game wardens assigned to Denton County say Derrick, a Fort Worth resident, was not wearing a “kill-switch” cord, which is designed to shut off a craft’s engine when a rider falls off.

The Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office lists Derrick Applon’s official cause of death as drowning.

Applon’s family started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money toward memorial efforts. The campaign, started by his sister, raised about $1,820 in about two hours. The date and times of services are still pending.

His death came the week before the busy Labor Day holiday weekend. It looms large on the minds of rescue authorities, who say Applon’s death is a reminder of how dangerous lake activities can be. There have been 16 drownings in Denton, Tarrant and Collin counties this summer, said Texas game warden Capt. Cliff Swofford, who covers those areas for the state.

“The drowning victim [who] we just recovered should be an indicator that people should wear a life jacket and wear a kill switch that connects to motors,” Swofford said.

DALTON LAFERNEY can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @daltonlaferney.

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