Texas Parks and Wildlife Heading Up Boat Crash Investigation - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

6/19/06

Texas Parks and Wildlife Heading Up Boat Crash Investigation

Life will no longer be the same for one 18-year-old who was critically injured in a weekend boating accident at Buffalo Springs Lake. It happened during the "Circle Track and Drag Boat Racing" event Sunday.

Authorities say 56-year-old James Greg Renegar lost control of his boat and hit 18-year-old Mark Stargel who was riding on a jet ski. Stargel lost a leg and remains hospitalized at University Medical Center. Renegar was also injured but has since been treated and released from the hospital.

Texas Parks and Wildlife is now asking why and how the crash happened. NewsChannel 11's Kealey McIntire has been following this story and has the latest.  

Parks and Wildlife officers have the jet ski, the boat and another boat damaged in the crash. From there, they'll try to re-create the scene so they can determine who is at fault, if anyone. Another major question is the future of boat racing events at Buffalo Springs Lake.

The water is now calm and all is back to normal at Buffalo Springs Lake. However, Sunday afternoon, a record crowd of nearly 15,000 watched the Circle Track and Drag Boat races, the same number of people would see the tragedy that would occur when James Renegar and Mark Stargel collided.

Buffalo Springs Lake General Manager Greg Thornton said, "Nobody wants to see nobody get hurt. Everybody was heartsick when they heard the young man got hurt."

Thornton says a silence came over the crowd after the crash. Thousands watched, but no one knows exactly what happened. Texas Parks and Wildlife is now charged with that investigation. Officers already have the boat and jet-ski in their possession, from there, they'll map out the cause of the accident.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Warden Quentin Terrel said, "We're going to take from the position of the boats, from witness statements and from video and impact marks on the boats and we'll try to reconstruct what exactly occurred."

This was just the second year for this race at the lake, Thornton says the sport was gaining popularity, that is until the tragedy.

The racing club at Buffalo Springs Lake had big aspirations for the race, they wanted to make it a part of a stop on a sponsored boat race tour and that would attract hundreds more from out of state. However, after Sunday's accident, nobody is sure of the race's future. 

"It's kind of uncertain right now what's going to happen," says Thornton, "this accident is still under investigation, it just depends on what the attitude of everybody is wether we have the races again or not".  

This particular race was an unsanctioned race, that means it wasn't sponsored and that all participants signed a waiver stating that Buffalo Springs Lake would not be held responsible for any injuries.  

We've learned tonight that the jet-skier, Mark Stargel, attended Monterrey High School, he graduated in May.

Families and friends are asking for your help with medical bills. If you would like to make a donation, you can call Buffalo Springs Lake at (806) 747-3353.

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