By LIBBY CLUETT
POSSUM KINGDOM LAKE – Independence Day festivities at Possum Kingdom Lake this weekend were marred with tragedy, not once, but twice.
Three-year-old Wyatt Terasas was pronounced dead at Palo Pinto General Hospital Sunday evening, according to Palo Pinto County Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Charlie “Coppy” Hodgkins Jr.
The boy, who lived in Vernon, Texas, with his mother, was with his father (from Loving, Texas), swimming at Sandy Beach Hodgkins said. When he was reported missing to the BRA, divers were dispatched to search for Terasas and, upon finding him, sent the child to PPGH via ambulance, where he was declared dead.
Hodgkins said he sent the child’s body to Southwest Medical Examiners, in Dallas, for an autopsy.
Before responding to the call regarding Terasas’ disappearance at Sandy Beach Sunday afternoon, BRA Rangers and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Game Wardens recovered the body of Lubbock resident Lindsey Culver, 27, at Hells Gate Cove, according to BRA Public Information Officer Judi Pierce.
Culver had reportedly been swimming from a boat in the cove during the day, Saturday. The BRA received a call that she was missing at 9:30 p.m., just minutes before the Hells Gate fireworks show was set to begin, Pierce said. The show was cancelled to allow the BRA to search for the woman in the area.
Crews searched until 2 a.m. Sunday and resumed searching around 8 a.m., Pierce said. At 2:24 p.m. they found Culver’s body in 25-to-35-feet of water, using side-scan sonar. Palo Pinto County Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Shawn Humphries made a positive identification and sent her body for an autopsy, according to Pierce.
Immediately following the recovery of Culver's body, the BRA and TPWD divers and support crews, including a family grief counselor, were dispatched from Hells Gate to Sandy Beach, around 4 p.m. Sunday, to find 3-year-old Terasas and comfort his father.
In both cases, drowning was tentatively listed as the cause of death.
Sunday's deaths mark 2013's second and third potential drowning deaths in PK Lake.