“We requested an autopsy,” he told the Index in May. “We do that in accidental deaths so there are no questions that arise later.”
In early June, Newcastle resident Justin Lee Utley, 22, died of drowning, according to the BRA. Humphries, who pronounced Utley dead at the scene in the Rock Creek area of the lake, said he was “swimming behind a paddle boat and went under.”
While there are laws regarding flotation devices for minors riding on or being towed behind boats that are underway, Pierce noted, “There are no laws that we are aware of requiring flotation devices for swimmers. All BRA parks currently have notices regarding hazards while swimming and boating on the reservoir.”
“We consistently, every year, have drownings at the lake,” said Palo Pinto County Sheriff Ira Mercer.
“Some of them, you don’t know why they went down … it’s grown adults that haven’t been drinking or anything else,” he explained.
“With a child, they need supervision. I mean, nobody should stop looking at them and they should have flotation of some type.
“When a child’s in the water, you should not look away from them. Have somebody – if you have to post different grownups to do it – watch the children, keep a headcount and be out there with them,” he said.
Although Sandy Beach typically has a long, sloping beach, Mercer said when the lake is down, like it is this year, swimming areas can get “real steep.”
Mercer indicated he would like to get some type of billboard posted, which PK Lake visitors would encounter as they enter the peninsula, that reminds them of the dangers of swimming in the lake.