LEWISVILLE, Texas — On Friday, park rangers cruising along Lake Lewisville with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were keeping a watchful eye.
The organization told WFAA on Friday that it had seen 17 drownings across the seven Dallas-Fort Worth area lakes it oversees since last October, which is the start of its current fiscal year.
From October 2020 to October 2021, there were 14 drownings across the same jurisdiction, per the USACE.
"We're not even to the July 4th weekend yet, and we're already seeing higher numbers of these tragic accidents than we did last year," USACE Lake Lewisville manager Rob Jordan said.
Jordan added that many recent drownings were preventable. The victims weren't wearing life jackets or personal flotation devices.
"We're seeing a higher number of visitors this summer. That's likely due to the economy--people want to stay closer to home, so they'll come to a local lake rather than take a trip to the beach," Jordan said.
"With that brings safety challenges. When they come out to the lake, we want to ensure that people are cautious and constantly reminded to wear a life jacket when they are around water."
The most recent drownings were at Lake Lavon last weekend, when three were killed after their boat overturned.
Family members identified two of the men Sunday afternoon as Jose Dominguez, 60, and Rafael Olea, 28. The Collin County Sheriff's Office identified the third victim as Julio Bibiano-Gonzalez, 34.
The USACE was out on Lake Lewisville on Friday, honing in on boat safety checks.
Those, per park ranger Chandler Sanford, include making sure everyone on the boat has a life jacket and sound-producing device in case of an emergency.
They're also out to make sure a boat isn't over capacity.
Sanford and a fellow park ranger told WFAA they rescued 16 from a wakeboard boat in early June that had capsized.
No one was killed.
"There were people in the water that weren't able to get their life jackets on in time," Sanford said. "In that split second, it's not easy to get on. We like to stress the importance of knowing where your life jacket is in the boat and being able to access it easily."
The data is sobering. The USACE hopes it encourages boaters and lakegoers to be safe.
"Know your limitations, know your swimming abilities, and just remember there are hazards out here," Jordan said.