Whatever Happened to the Fatal Lake LBJ Boat Crash? - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

8/11/03

Whatever Happened to the Fatal Lake LBJ Boat Crash?

New crime lab tests link a boat owned by two prominent San Antonio businessmen, to the hit and run accident that killed Texas Tech Graduate Laura Putnam. Putnam was killed at lake LBJ near Austin on Memorial Day after she was thrown from her boat.

Officials with Texas Parks and Wildlife, the lead agency on this case, said Monday lab tests all but confirm that it was Berkley and Vincent Dawson’s boat involved in the crash. What officials don't know at this point, or won't say, is who was driving the suspect boat. At this point, there have been no arrests.

Vincent and Berkley Dawson own San Antonio's Budweiser distributorship. The Dawson’s, their families and some family friends spent Memorial Day weekend at their lakeside mansion on Horseshoe Bay. The Dawson’s maintain they don't know who took their speedboat out the night of the accident.

Putnam was on the victim boat with her fiancé and her fiancé’s cousin. She was thrown into the water. Her body recovered two weeks after the crash, nearly a mile from the crash site. "It's been 11 weeks today since Laura died and still no one has come forward. I, quite frankly, don't know how they go to sleep at night," says Laura Putnam’s mother Betty.

Betty is candid and sincere when asked how the family is holding up. "Not worth a darn. Laura was on the brink of getting married and having children. She managed to keep her grades up while working all the way through college and things were finally starting to pay off for her. We feel absolutely robbed," says Betty.

Despite the difficulties of this case, finding the Dawson’s boat was a big break for investigators.
Most boating wrecks remain unsolved if the culprit flees.

The family of Laura Putnam remains in a wait and see mode on the criminal investigation. But in the meantime, they're taking this case to civil court. In July, the Putnam’s filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Dawsons.

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