Tour boat stranded as storms sweep into Highland Lakes

Todd Boyd/Special to The Highlander
About 75 people were temporarily stranded June 9 when the Vanishing Texas River Cruise touring vessel took on water and made its way to Shaw Island on its route in Lake Buchanan as storm-like conditions swept into the area.

 

 

 

 

Connie Swinney
Staff Writer

Nearly 75 passengers on a river boat cruise on Lake Buchanan experienced some tense moments as a brief but severe thunderstorm swept into the Highland Lakes June 9 and stranded the tourists on a remote peninsula on the waterway.

Overall, the weather event which included 65 mile per hour winds uprooted trees, caused power outages, damaged property and drenched the area for at least an hour.

The Vanishing Texas River Cruise tour boat – on a regular tour which travels for miles up the lake and into the Colorado River channel – began experiencing engine issues just after 6 p.m. that evening as choppy conditions began pelting the multi-story vessel.

The boat was beached on Shaw Island during the storm and was unable to get off the island due to a flooded engine compartment,” said Capt. Chris Jett, in a Burnet County Sheriff's Office statement. “The boat did not sink and all persons are safe and accounted for with no injuries.”

Emergency crews ferried passengers and the crew from the peninsula and off-duty law enforcement assisted in transporting the tourists back to their chartered tour bus for a return-trip to San Antonio.

Assisting agencies included Texas Parks and Wildlife, Lower Colorado River Authority personnel, Buchanan VFD, East Lake Buchanan VFD, Tow VFD and civilian volunteers.

River cruise officials offered a statement in the aftermath of the incident.

Our boat was out for an afternoon private charter with guests wanting to visit the island and have a picnic,” the statement read. “We were actually on our way back to the dock when the storm blew in.”

Officials blamed the inaccuracy of storm reports and the immediacy of the event for the issue.

The weather is always something [we] monitor before and during every cruise. However, there have been a few times that the forecast didn’t match what actually happened, as our quick change in the weather this afternoon (June 9),” according to the Vanishing Texas River Cruise statement. “Thank everyone again for your concerns and a big thank you to all who came to help us out.”

Other June 9 storm damage around the Highland Lakes included:

Marble Falls Storage, behind Big D's Convenience Store on Avenue Q in Marble Falls, experienced roof damage as a portion of the metal structure peeled away from the main building. No injuries were reported.

Residents in Spicewood reported downed trees, including four oak trees which damaged a wooden fence on a property, just off Texas 71 on Vista View Drive.

Llano County public safety officials reported damage to metal roofs and structures, swept away or damaged by straight-line wind; some gusts from 65 to 80 miles per hour, according to the Llano County Sheriff's Office. Other reports included pea-sized to baseball-sized hail to the east of Llano.

A one-vehicle crash on Texas 71 near the FM 2233 intersection at the height of the thunderstorm resulted in a woman being transported to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.

In Kingsland, a tree was uprooted in River Oaks subdivision blocking the roadway for a couple of hours; residents also reported broken tree branches, and roof and property damage caused by high straight-line winds.

Customers reported intermittent power outages in the Burnet and Llano county area.

Find this story and more news and sports in the Tuesday, June 11 issue of The Highlander, the newspaper of record for the Highland Lakes. To offer a comment or news tip, email connie@highlandernews.com.

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