Authorities have identified a Lockhart teen as the victim in an accidental drowning at Five Mile Dam Wednesday.
Wyatt James Kunze, 15, of Lockhart, was named as the victim in the incident. Hays County Sheriff Gary Cutler said the drowning was accidental and authorities suspect no foul play.
Around 2 p.m. June 26, Kunze, along with a female teenage cousin, were attempting to swim across the Blanco River at Five Mile Dam to reach a rock formation.
However, Kunze began to struggle during the swim and went underwater. Kunze’s cousin attempted to save him, but was unable to do so, due to her swimming abilities, Cutler said. Neither Kunze nor his cousin were strong swimmers, according to authorities.
Emergency officials were called shortly thereafter with first responders from Kyle, San Marcos and Texas Parks and Wildlife helping with the search.
Kunze’s body was found at around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in water that was approximately 10- to 20-feet deep, Cutler said. No alcohol or drugs played a role in the incident.
Cutler said the weather was good and the water was clear at the time of the incident. The Blanco River was higher than usual due to recent rains, but the water was not swift. Kunze and his cousin, who was not identified, had traveled to the dam at Dudley Johnson Park together and were in the designated swimming area, Cutler said.
“This is a terrible accidental death and the loss of a 15-year-old child,” Cutler said.
Following the incident, Cutler said he and Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra have discussed the possibility of enacting additional safety measures at Five Mile Dam. Currently, there is signage in place at Five Mile Dam warning patrons to swim at their own risk. Becerra said county officials are meeting with department heads to make assessments to do “everything we can to be proactive as we can.”
Seven people have drowned at Five Mile Dam since 2003; three people were rescued during that same time frame. Becerra said he was “absolutely” open to conversations of remodeling Five Mile Dam to accommodate the rapidly growing area, but also to improve safety.
“We are here for the people and we represent the people and that conversation will surely cross our path,” Becerra said.
Cutler urged residents to stay safe when on the water this summer and for them to know their own swim capabilities. He said patrons should always swim with a partner and never swim alone, as well as consider using life jackets or safety gear while on the water.
Swimmers should also be aware of changing conditions on river bottoms which can occur following flood events, Cutler said.