Body of teenage swimmer found in Barton Creek

Saturday, authorities responded to the third drowning on the Barton Creek greenbelt in just 10 days.

Austin Fire Department was called out to the creek Saturday afternoon after a teenage boy went underwater near the intersection of Loop 360 and Mopac and never came back up.

“Crews immediately made access to the trail, met with family members who described seeing a teenage boy go under water and not resurface,” said Austin Fire Department Division Chief Palmer Buck. 

Fire and EMS rescue divers started looking for the teen underwater with snorkels and masks. After 30 minutes the search was changed from a rescue to a recovery, meaning the odds that the swimmer would be found alive were slim.

STAR Flight was called out to help search from the sky, but before the helicopter even got to the scene divers recovered the body. 

Austin Fire Department Division Chief Palmer Buck said even though this is the third drowning in 10 days at Barton Creek, the water is not dangerous enough to close the greenbelt to swimmers. However, he does encourage people to take extra precautions.

“This is a wild, untamed stream that there are no lifeguards. You need to have an idea of what your abilities are as a swimmer, you need to always swim with a partner, you need to always keep in constant contact with each other, you need to understand the areas where you're swimming have potential dangers,” Buck said. 

Thad Williams and Rob Pac spent Saturday kayaking the creek. They said they did prepare for the higher water, but didn't run into any scary situations.

“It was definitely moving, but at no point was it to the point where it felt completely out of control or unsafe,” said Pac.

“I wouldn't say that you should close it. I mean, I think that it's generally safe if you're safe,” Williams said. 

However, the men did say the creek was packed and it wouldn't be difficult to get lost in the crowd.

“There were a lot of people. Even if you were with your friends, I could see how you could lose track of somebody pretty easily,” said Williams. 

Austin police are investigating whether that played into Saturday’s drowning. There have been 12 emergency calls from Barton Creek in the last three days. First responders are hoping people will be more careful in the future.

“We want to encourage people to continue to visit this wonderful place, but you have to understand that there are dangers,” Buck said. 
 

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