Two die in personal watercraft collision
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE – Two cousins sharing a rented Waverunner died Monday off Ski Run Marina when they bounced off a wake and collided with a second watercraft driven by another cousin.
Ashley Wagner, 15, and Jordan Cockrell, 6, were found face down in Lake Tahoe about one-quarter mile north of Ski Run Marina after the two struck the other cousin, 15, who sat on an idling, rented Waverunner, authorities said.
Witnesses estimated the children were traveling 20 mph and couldn’t stop the vessel, said South Lake Tahoe Police Lt. Terry Daniels.
Ashley, from Barstow, Calif., was pulled out of the water by crew on Shark One, a parasailing boat out of Ski Run Marina. Capt. Lucius Beall was about 300 yards away when the accident occurred, said Ken Hunt, boating safety officer with the police department.
“He pulled the girl up and started doing CPR,” Hunt said.
Jordan, from Hayward, Calif., was taken by the 15-year-old cousin to shore, where paramedics tried to revive the youth. Family members huddled and prayed and sobbed for the cousins’ revival.
The two were taken to Barton Memorial Hospital, where they were pronounced dead at 2:44 p.m.
Coroner Pete Van Arnum said an autopsy today will reveal whether they drowned or suffered internal injuries.
All three youths were wearing personal flotation devices.
Hunt and fellow boating officer Steve O’Brien, both retired detectives, are handling the case. They were patrolling the Tahoe Keys area when the accident happened. O’Brien said it has not been determined who was driving the watercraft.
Authorities said the Waverunners, SR-1 models, were rented from Ski Run Marina. California law states 16 is the minimum age to rent watercraft, while 14 is the minimum age in Nevada.
Lt. Daniels said it was too early to determine whether there would be a criminal investigation.
Authorities, firefighters and paramedics at the scene attended a counseling session at the police department.
Hunt praised the efforts of Beall, who performed CPR on Ashley in a rocking boat.
“Not many people would have gone to the degree he did,” Hunt said.
Jason and Teona Bailey, from Savannah, Ga., were in the parasailing boat that towed in one of the Waverunners.
When he saw the broken steering column on the Waverunner that had been hit, Jason said he imagined the worse.
“I’ve ridden Jet Skis before, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said.
From May to September 2003, seven people drowned in Lake Tahoe.
E-mail William Ferchland at email@example.com