Fatal tubing accident reminds boaters to use caution on Trinity River


They told Eyewitness News up and down the river, danger lurks beneath the surface. Junk like loose logs and trash float frequently in the river. Lifetime boaters like Dana Clover argued people need to protect themselves first and foremost.

"The river always has submerged structures, concrete blocks, and logs. It changes daily," said Clover. "A tube is a rubber ring. It offers no protection. There aren't seat belts on a tube."

Chambers County deputies explained the accident happened 10 miles north of the boat ramp off I-10. They said the family set out on a fun-filled day on the water. A father and mother were onboard the boat watching their 16-year old daughter and 24-year old son tubing behind them. That's when things turned deadly. Investigators report as the bound rounded a bend, the tube hit a submerged tree. The impact killed Brooke Theiler and left her brother hospitalized.

Kayakers like Craig Muse said they couldn't imagine the scene.

"When you see people getting launched out of a tube," explained Muse. "They're skipping across the water. That's how fast you're going."

On Monday afternoon, fishing guide Joseph Boudreaux took us on the water to see the hidden hazards.

"You name it. I've seen stumps, refrigerators, dryers, sunken boats," said Captain Boudreaux. "You want to use extreme caution."

He echoed Texas Park and Wildlife's advice. They urge boaters to scope out the water carefully and consider the changing weather. One strike is all it takes.

"If you hit it sideways, you could flip the boat," said Cpt. Boudreaux. "It's pretty dangerous."

Other boaters suggested picking a clear open stretch of water if tubing or skiing. Better yet, argued one mother, limit the risk all together.

"Go into a nice safe lake," said Clover. "Don't go tubing or skiing in the river. Eventually you're going to hit something."

Officials do not plan on installing warning signs or removing floating debris.

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