JUNE 16 - Two South Texas high school coaches died Monday when a wave knocked them out of their boat in the Laguna Madre on the ICW, which separates Padre Island from the Texas mainland.
Rolando Gutierrez, 33, and Joey Torres, 30, were found dead in six feet of water about a mile from their boat, according to news reports. A third passenger, Jeff Torres, 33, was found alive and in the boat.
The men were traveling the waterway when the boat’s steering failed, reports say. They stopped the boat and were attempting to fix the problem when they were knocked into the water.
“It looks like there was a mechanical failure with the motor and steering mechanism,” says Jarrett Barker, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Warden, in a news report. “It’s hard to determine if it was normal wear and tear, but the system did not have the proper amount of hydraulic fluid in it ...”
Jeff Torres reported the accident at about 11:15 a.m. and the Coast Guard dispatched three boats and a helicopter to aid in the search. The first man was found floating on his back and was pronounced dead at a hospital, reports say. The second man, spotted by the helicopter crew, was pronounced dead when the searchers returned to shore.
Gutierrez, of Edcouch, coached a girls’ basketball team and a freshman boys’ basketball team. Joey Torres, of Weslaco, was a varsity assistant girls’ basketball coach and a junior high school boys’ track coach.
Texas Parks and Wildlife, which regulates state recreational boat traffic, is conducting an investigation.
— Jason Fell