View Full Version : Girl, 4, Fatally Struck by Houseboat, Father's Legs Severed

06-30-2017, 08:31 AM
Tragic accident here, but completely avoidable by all parties involved.


As you can see from my signature, I owned and regularly operated a 69’ long 2-story houseboat with 2 helms: upper deck forward; lower deck forward and inside. Like all large vessels, you can’t see what’s behind the vessel from the helm when backing up, especially from the inside helm. When available, my wife would usually be on the stern as the lookout when I was reversing, but there were several times no one was there to assist me. I’d always check the waters around me and toot the horn 3 times, and then begin backing up.

The boat involved in this accident was a 3 story houseboat that was beached bow-in to the shore - very typical for aluminum hulled houseboats to do. From what the article says, the houseboat captain did his due diligence in checking behind the vessel and yelling “clear” before backing the vessel off the shore. I can’t say where everyone was in relation to the houseboat when the captain yelled “clear”, but I’m sure he started his engines, which should have been another indicator he was about to move. The charges against the houseboat captain states he was “driving recklessly” because he was going full throttle in reverse. Clearly, the DA knows NOTHING about boats! How the hell else do you pull a 100K Lb 3-story vessel off the shore!? It’s VERY typical to have to do that to pull the bow off the beach.

My contention with this whole thing is: how did the 4 year old get behind a giant houseboat unsupervised? Being a 3 story houseboat, I’ll assume it’s at least 70’ long – that’s pretty conservative. The 3 story houseboats I’ve seen are typically in the 100’+ club. Elsewhere in the article, it says the girl and parents were on someone else’s boat for the girl’s 1st time on a boat. That friend’s boat must have been either (1) anchored close behind the houseboat (very unlikely) or it was (2) beached, like the houseboat was. So, again, this 4 year old girl somehow managed to swim out behind this boat, while engines were running and captain yells “clear”….. Things are not adding up here.

I’m pinning more of the blame on the 4 year old’s parents. The charges against the houseboat captain are completely drummed-up and a good lawyer should be able get them reduced. It’s crap like this that scares the crap out of me when boating. Very sad for everyone involved.

07-01-2017, 11:56 AM
It might not be as easy as you think; why didn't he have a lookout? I don't think yelling "clear" will carry much weight. At an airport maybe.

At the very least his good lawyer is going to cost him a pretty penny.

07-06-2017, 04:29 PM
The latest article on this said the operator admitted he did not check behind the boat before reversing.


But apparently there is some fault to go around. This was not a designated swimming area. But it was also an area where the houseboat was not supposed to be. I saw something within the last few days that the father died too but I haven't been able to find it. However, the operator will surely get some sort of penalty because he clearly did not keep a proper lookout as required by the navigation rules.

07-07-2017, 02:21 AM
I saw something within the last few days that the father died too but I haven't been able to find it.

Patrick Oliver, the father maimed in a boating accident that killed his 4-year-old daughter, lost a two-week battle for his life Thursday morning,

Oliver was pronounced dead at 9:34 a.m. at Scott & White Medical Center-Temple by Bell County Justice of the Peace G.W. Ivey.

His death comes a week after daughter Kaitlyn Oliver’s public visitation at Temple Bible Church. Kaitlyn died June 23 when a houseboat backed into her at Temple Lake Park on Lake Belton.

Oliver, who was distraught about his daughter’s death, died with members of his family surrounding him, Ivey said.

Ivey sent Oliver’s body to Dallas for an autopsy at the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences.

Oliver’s legs were amputated when he tried to rescue Kaitlyn from the houseboat’s propellers that had her trapped under water at the Temple park. He quickly underwent three surgeries to try to repair the extensive damage.

Along the way, Oliver had to deal with the emotional turmoil of his daughter’s death, pneumonia and high fever, family members said.

“She (Kaitlyn) was definitely a major daddy’s girl and had him (Patrick) wrapped around her finger,” Adrianna DeLeon, one of Kaitlyn’s aunts who lives in California, said after Kaitlyn’s death.

Mary Ann Mayfield, Kaitlyn’s mother, said after Kaitlyn’s death, “Her father loved her so much that he wanted to give his own life to save hers. That’s how special she was.”

DeLeon couldn’t talk Thursday but asked in a message for prayers for her family.

Oliver wasn’t able to attend his daughter’s visitation, and the family was waiting to hold a private family service for Kaitlyn when her father could be there so that he could get closure, DeLeon previously said.

Kaitlyn died of wounds from the propeller and drowning, according to her autopsy results.

A GoFundMe account set up for Pat and Kaitlyn Oliver showed donations Thursday totaling $67,998. The proceeds are designated for hospital bills, funeral costs and related expenses that the Oliver family faced.

Crotty Funeral Home & Cremation Services in Belton is absorbing the entire cost of both Kaitlyn’s and Oliver’s funeral expenses, but no arrangements have been made yet, business owner Jarrah Crotty said Thursday.

Additional charges pending

Already charged with criminally negligent homicide for Kaitlyn’s death is 44-year-old Jason Bernal of Killeen.

Bernal will most likely face an additional charge after Oliver’s death, Ivey said.

Bell County District Attorney Henry Garza said members of his staff were saddened Thursday to learn that Patrick Oliver died.

“We are in the process of reviewing this case at this time,” Garza said.

Bernal reportedly ran over Kaitlyn at about 6:47 p.m. June 23 while backing up his three-story houseboat in the shallow water off Sandy Point at Temple Lake Park.

An arrest affidavit said that Bernal told investigators that he yelled “clear” before putting the boat in reverse and heard no responses. Others at the park yelled for Bernal to stop. A video in police custody reportedly showed the boat in the water with people behind it in waist-deep water.

Bernal admitted to Temple Police Department investigators that he couldn’t see behind him and didn’t hear people yelling for him to stop, an arrest affidavit said.

A witness to the tragedy told a police officer that she previously told Bernal to stop parking his boat in the area because children swam there.

Bernal was released from the Bell County Jail the Sunday after Kaitlyn’s death after posting $150,000 bond.


07-07-2017, 05:22 AM
plain and simple,a very avoidable tragic accident.

07-07-2017, 02:20 PM
grossly negligent operation!

10-03-2017, 04:00 PM
Any updates on this tragedy? Has the captain gone through his trial or been sentenced yet?

Frantically Relaxing
11-08-2017, 12:31 AM
People swimming in a no-swim area will play into this. Similar but different situation: the guy who pulled and launched my houseboat with a beautiful Peterbilt ran a red light in that same Peterbilt and instantly killed a guy on a Harley who entered the intersection. Sounds cut & dried. Until the extenuating circumstances came into play. For one, he was driving west with the sun square in his eyes, it and his sun visor partially blocked his view of the lights. Two, there were problems with the red lights being clearly visible anyway (long story, 'depth perception' issues), and the most important, the guy on the Harley was parked behind a car, the driver of which saw the Peterbilt wasn't going to stop, and didn't move... The guy on the Harley grew impatient, not noticing the Peterbilt coming and went around the car, square into the path of the truck. It was ruled that both parties were 50% at fault. The truck driver got a ticket, but no other charges were held against him. But ending a life hasn't been easy on him.

It will be interesting to see what comes of this...

11-08-2017, 05:48 AM
Hm. There was a study some years ago about how many municipalities lay out their streets on a N-S, E-W grid, thus GUARANTEEING that at certain times of the year you WILL be blinded by the rising or setting sun.

And who hasn't gone out for a "sunset cruise" only to be blinded by the sun off the water, even WITH Polaroids?