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And my response was, what was the need for the report to be released?  It is obvious an accident occurred.  If every car accident, boating accident, airplane accident, or accident of any type needed to be disclosed in a report, would it in fact reduce accidents? I think not.  Thus RS thinks the report should be disclosed, and I asked, why?   I don't think the question has been answered yet.  Learn from the mistakes of others?  Why were these boys not properly trained in the first place?  That has nothing to do with the report.  Will disclosing the report insure it will never happen again?  Probably not very likely.  Car accident reports have been produced right from the very beginning of automobile history.  Has any of them stopped accidents from happening?  Nope.  Will there be reports?  Will they help?  Nope. 

So far the only value in releasing the report would be for litigious reasons so people know who it is they are supposed to be suing.  Who is negligent?  Who is to blame? etc.  Then releasing the report would be fine.  Those families involved in that process can hire lawyers to view the reports.  The rest of us don't need to know.

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I see that this was a Hobie Cat.  I used to own a 16 foot.  Somewhere around 1986 they recalled the all aluminum masts and replaced it with a fiberglass tip to help prevent exactly this scenario.  Not

Here is a link to the 1982 electrocution story recap: http://www.kltv.com/story/36082251/dead-on-lake-o-the-pines-this-was-not-the-first-time

Sounds like an Eagle project: surveying and reporting over-water power line heights in the names of the poor souls who were let down by government passing the buck.

21 minutes ago, NJCubScouter said:

In this case, it appears the odds were just high enough for a tragedy to occur.

And the report is going to say the mast was too high or the wire too low.  We don't need a report to know that.

That presumes that one sees the power lines before going under them.  Was there sun glare making it difficult to see the lines?  Was there something else that I can't think of right now that could make it difficult to see the lines?  None of us know the answers to those questions, or to the question of what the power lines were doing that close to the water in the first place.  

A misjudgment on the part of the sailors.  That pretty much sums it up. 

I don't think RS missed that point at all.  That point is why the report should be released (with anything that is particularly sensitive redacted, since these were youths.)

And if one were to read what I wrote, I didn't say RS missed the point, I said he omitted a third option.


Edited by Stosh
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Anyone old enough to remember  canoeing in a aluminum Grumman boat under a gigawatt powerline and feeling  the buzz in the boat that your ears were hearing ?

Michael Faraday.....


And we should remember the tragedy at the 2005 Jamboree.   The question there was why set up a tall pole under a power line?   Expectations....

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Here is a comment from the power utility spokesperson at the time of the accident.

"We are aware of an accident that occurred on Saturday that involved a number of local Boy Scouts. Our heartfelt prayers go out for all of the Scouts, their families, and for the community. We are working to determine what happened, and we are gathering facts as they become available. We are cooperating in the investigation and will assist in the process as it goes forward.  As a community together, we continue to pray and stand by to assist as needed."


Government agencies, particularly Texas  Parks & Wildlife Department, also investigated and gathered facts regarding accident.  I would like to read it.


As I understand, the sailboat had a 27ft? mast.  In 1997, after previous sailboat/power line accidents including one at this location, the Army Corp of Engineers issued new regulations regarding power line heights over reservoirs and safety margins - 52ft and 5ft.  I would like to read what, if anything, the report said about that.


Also in the report should be information about water levels/power line height, warning buoys/signs/line markers,  boat construction and specs, operator experience, current map markings, weather. I would like to read it.

There are sometimes more to accident causes than what appears to be the obvious -  contributing failure factors.  I would like to read if there were other failure factors.


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The problem is that there are no signs near the boat ramps saying the power lines are there. The one sign that is there has a warning as one of many bullet points on the sign all in small text. There should be a big red warning sign noting the wires and the lines themselves should have update warning bouys on the ground under the wires and on the wires themselves. 

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7 hours ago, Back Pack said:

The problem is that there are no signs near the boat ramps saying the power lines are there. The one sign that is there has a warning as one of many bullet points on the sign all in small text. There should be a big red warning sign noting the wires and the lines themselves should have update warning bouys on the ground under the wires and on the wires themselves. 

The local units are trying to urge Texas Parks & Wildlife to take steps to better mark the area. I understand there are a few unit/Eagle projects to draw attention to the issues noted above. With lake levels fluctuating so wildly, and the poor markings both at the ramp and on the lake, the power company needs to do something. If not them, then the parks dept since they control the access point and lake use.

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Update: 1/11/2018

Susan Erickson, an attorney who was hired by the electric cooperative to coordinate communication about the accident stated "I know the Upshur Rural Electric Cooperative is working with (the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Lake O' the Pines manager) to make some decisions," she said. "It's premature to issue a statement at this time as to what will be done, but I do know that is an issue under review and the appropriate experts have been engaged to look into what should be done in coordination with federal and state agencies."


A letter from the (Texas) attorney general's office indicates the boys' families or their representatives could receive the report. Each parent would get information about his or her child but would not get information about the other children.

The decision is related to a section of the family code and allegations of "alleged or suspected abuse or neglect." ( As previously noted, the report will not be released to the public. -RS)

A spokesman for Texas Parks & Wildlife said this week that no criminal charges would be filed in the incident, based on the recommendation of Marion County District Attorney Angela Smoak. Smoak did not return a phone call seeking comment.

"TPWD has made no specific claim of abuse or neglect of a child. The agency did, however, request and has subsequently received an opinion from the (attorney general) that confirms that ... records should be held confidential due to its definition of 'abuse' a 'physical injury that results in substantial harm to a child,' " said Steve Lightfoot, press office manager for Parks & Wildlife.

The East Texas Area Council of Boy Scouts previously said the catamaran the boys were sailing had a mast that stood about 26.5 feet. Lightfoot said this week that the department's investigation determined the Alley Creek transmission line involved in the accident was 26.8 feet high at its lowest point.

Rules adopted in 1997 for electric power supply lines and communication lines over reservoirs managed by the Corps of Engineers state that lines must have a minimum vertical clearance of 52 feet where sailboats are commonly operated.

However, the regulation only goes into effect if existing lines are being replaced or new ones built. The age of the power line involved in the accident has not been publicly disclosed.

Lightfoot said the Corps of Engineers placed buoys on the water marking the power lines shortly after the incident.

Erickson said there's no timeline for when the investigation would be completed and any changes enacted.

"I think the meetings have been multiphased with various agencies," she said, adding that Upshur Rural Electric would follow any recommendations made as a result.



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I believe the report should be available to the public.  I’m not sure if the below incident was discussed but it was another case of three boys (one killed two injured) in a sailboat that came into contact with overhead lines.  


Without making it public, how do regulatory agencies and private companies not involved with the incident ensure they have the proper processes in place to prevent this from occurring in other locations?  The goal should be to learn from these incidents to help prevent future harm.  

NPR had a good TED radio hour regarding transparency.  I think the medical device/nurse issue was a great example of why transparency is important (not only to prevent future incidents but also honoring the injured and deceased).




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  • 6 months later...

Update: 7/12/2018


An electric company is considering major renovations to move utility lines underneath a creek where three boy scouts were electrocuted in 2017.

A representative for Upshur Rural Electric Cooperative confirmed Thursday that the electric company has system-wide plans in the works, "including an extensive project that involves tunneling the lines that currently cross Alley Creek and placing them under the Lake O’ the Pines."

On Aug. 5, 2017, three Hallsville Boy Scouts were electrocuted when their catamaran sailboat hit a power line at Alley Creek on the Lake o' the Pines Marina. Will Brannon, 17, Heath Faucheux, 16, died at the scene of the incident. Thomas Larry, 11, later died at a hospital in Shreveport.

More details at source link:


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Update Mar 7,2019: 

"The Army Corps of Engineers confirmed Thursday that the Upshur Rural Electric Cooperative has buried the electric transmission line under Lake O’ The Pines at the Upshur/Marion County line."


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Update 3/8/2019:  Texas state Representative Chris Paddie has filed House Bill 4150 to address utility safety issues after three boy scouts were killed in a tragic accident in 2017 on Lake O' the Pines.


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Update 6/19/19:  Texas Governor Abbott signs Power Line Safety Act

Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 4150 into law Friday. The bill, also known as the William Thomas Heath Power Line Safety Act by state Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Marshall, would require that all utilities make regular inspections of their power lines to ensure those high-voltage carriers comply with state and federal height and other safety regulations.

William Brannon, 17, Heath Faucheux, 16, and Thomas Larry, 11, were at Alley Creek at Lake O’ the Pines with fellow Scouts from Hallsville-based Troop 620 on a weekend campout when the mast of their catamaran contacted a power line on Aug. 5, 2017. The two teens died immediately. Thomas died two days later.

Pamela Larry, mother of Thomas, said in an emailed statement the parents of the boys who died are relieved and grateful.

“We are so humbled in knowing that our boys’ lives are being honored,” she said in the email. “We are relieved to be at the end of this particular road, and we are grateful that our lawmakers realize and understand that action has to be taken to prevent our tragedy from happening again.”

more at source:


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