2 children die in watercraft crash
Tribune staff writer
Two cousins sharing a rented Waverunner died Monday off Ski Run Marina Village when they bounced off a wake and collided with a second watercraft driven by another cousin.
Ashley Wagner, 15, and Jordan Cockrell, 6, were found face down in Lake Tahoe about one-quarter mile north of the marina after the two struck the other cousin, 15, who sat on an idling, rented Waverunner, authorities said.
Witnesses estimated the children were traveling 20 miles per hour and couldn’t stop the vessel, said South Lake Tahoe Police Lt. Terry Daniels.
Ashley, from Barstow, was pulled out of the water by crew on Shark One, a parasailing boat out of the marina. Capt. Lucius Beall was about 300 yards away when the accident occurred, said Ken Hunt, boating safety officer with the police department.
“He pulled the girl up and started doing CPR,” Hunt said.
Jordan, from Hayward, was taken by the 15-year-old cousin to shore where paramedics tried to revive the youth. Family members huddled and prayed and sobbed for the cousins’ revival.
“He’s not breathing either,” panicked Jordan’s father, who declined to be interviewed later at the hospital.
The two were transported to Barton Memorial Hospital where they were pronounced dead at 2:44 p.m.
Coroner Pete Van Arnum said there wasn’t much bleeding and said an autopsy today will reveal whether they drowned or suffered internal injuries.
All three youths were wearing life jackets.
Hunt and fellow boating officer Steve O’Brien, both retired detectives, are handling the case. They were patrolling the Tahoe Keys area when the accident happened. O’Brien said it has not been determined who was driving the watercraft.
Authorities said the Waverunners, SR-1 models, were rented from the marina. California law states 16 is the minimum age to rent watercraft while 14 is the minimum age in Nevada.
Marina workers declined to be interviewed.
Lt. Daniels said it was too early to determine whether there would be a criminal investigation.
Authorities, firefighters and paramedics who were at the chaotic scene had an opportunity to attend a counseling session at the police department.
Hunt praised the efforts of Beall who performed CPR on Ashley in a rocking boat.
“Not many people would have gone to the degree he did,” Hunt said.
Jason and Teona Bailey, from Savannah, Ga., were in the parasailing boat that towed in one of the Waverunners.
When he saw the broken steering column on the Waverunner that was hit, Jason said he imagined the worse.
“I’ve rode Jet Skis before and I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said.
Last year, from May to September, seven people drowned in Lake Tahoe. For added patrol and education, the police department has one Honda personal watercraft on loan. El Dorado Sheriff’s Department has two.
– E-mail William Ferchland at email@example.com.