Saturday night, Karl Katzenberger, an 80-year-old man, drowned after a double-decker party boat capsized during a thunderstorm. The boat carried 53 people and capsized on a lake north of Houston.
The Lake Conroe Queen, named for frequently traveling on Lake Conroe, was hosting 53 guests for a party. Halfway through the cruise, the double-decker boat faced waves four to five feet tall due to high winds, which caused it to collapse near Regency Point around 8:12 pm.
Karl Katzenberger and another female passenger suffered from panic attacks after the boat capsized. Both were taken to the hospital after being rescued. While the female passenger recovered, Katzenberger was later pronounced dead.
Luckily, during the event, nearby apartment complex residents and people on private docks rushed to rescue the survivors. Additionally, Montgomery Precinct 1, Fire and Rescue, game wardens of the TPWD, and EMS members also assisted.
Why The Double Decker Boat Sank And The Rescue Efforts
KHOU11 interviewed a witness, Robert George, who spoke in detail about the Lake Conroe Queen. “It’s designed to operate in perfect conditions. So when you’re confronted with high winds or choppy water, it’s best to sit still or get close to the dock before you go running it around out there.”
In an interview with ABC13, one of the rescuers, Brock O’Rourke spoke about the incident.
“Man, it was a pretty rough scene because the waves were five or six feet at least, and we were slowly pulling people back,” said O’Rourke. “And finally, the police got here, and they dove into the water and checked, and it seems like we got everybody accounted for.”
Diana Elizalde, one of the people on the boat, recounts how she handled the situation.
“I made sure the little ones were out first. There were probably more than four of them. Other than that, they were less than five years old.”
Officials report the boat is still in the water and crew members are working to retrieve it. Until that happens, surrounding areas have been blocked off.
Montgomery County Judge, Mark Keough, issued a statement Sunday regarding the incident.
“So much bravery and teamwork tonight helped save so many from what could have been a complete disaster and a mass rescue operation didn’t turn into a mass casualty event.”
Keough continued by thanking everyone involved for assisting.
“I personally like to thank the residents of Regency Point who stepped up immediately to help their fellow man in a crisis and began rescuing people despite the dangers to themselves,” he said. “All of the responding agencies went above and beyond and made sure everyone was safe and well take care of.”