BudCo Owners Questioned in Fatal Lake LBJ Crash - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

6/25/03

BudCo Owners Questioned in Fatal Lake LBJ Crash

The mystery surrounding a fatal hit and run boat crash is beginning to unravel. Authorities in the Horseshoe Bay area are questioning two prominent businessmen in the fatal, lake LBJ crash that killed a Texas Tech graduate on Memorial Day.

Game wardens say the missing speedboat, discovered last week, belongs to Berkley and Vincent Dawson, two prominent businessmen and brothers from San Antonio. The Dawson brothers own BudCo, San Antonio's Budweiser distributorship. It's the 17th largest beer distributorship in the U.S., and the fifth largest in Texas.

At Horseshoe Bay on Memorial Day weekend, the Dawson brothers hosted a gathering at their getaway home in the affluent lakeside community. That same weekend, 23-year-old Laura Putnam died after she was thrown out of a motorboat during a hit and run crash at the lake. Putnam's body was found a week after the crash, nearly a mile from the scene. Putnam's fiance and her fiance's cousin were also on the boat. They both survived with minor injuries.

After the collision, Putnam's fiance says the speed boat that hit them circled around, surveyed the crash site, and then fled. Putnam's fiance says he saw two men on the suspect boat, but was unable to give a detailed description. Authorities searched for the missing speed boat with a red stripe for nearly a month, and then last week they found a boat in the dock at the Dawson brothers mansion that fit the description. Parks and wildlife officers found it with front end damage, a broken propeller and three spots of blood on the boat cover. Authorities say a missing piece of the propeller from the suspect boat was found inside the victim's boat.

At this point, authorities say the Dawson brothers are not suspects. The Dawsons' attorney says both men were in bed asleep at the time of the incident. Both brothers had their families and several family friends staying with them the weekend of the crash. But, no one seems to know who would have been out on the boat that late at night.

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