On Saturday, the Office of the Travis County Sheriff said they received fifteen distress calls, including boats taking on big waves, ships sinking, stalled engines, and capsized boats. These calls were coming from the scheduled boat parade on Lake Travis to show support for President Trump.
The event, called Lake Travis Trump Boat Parade, was scheduled from 11:30 am to 2 pm for a round trip from Emerald Point to Point Venture and back. According to the Facebook event page, “boats of all shapes and sizes are encouraged to participate.” The page also said the boats were asked to drive at only ten mph. By Sunday, more than 8,000 people marked themselves attending the parade.
“Decorate your boats in patriotic colors and fly as many Trump flags as she can handle. Let’s really make a statement.”Lake Travis Trump Boat Parade Facebook Post
According to reports, the first boat in distress was reported at about 12:10 pm near emerald point, almost immediately as the parade started. A total of five ships sank during the event, and three boats have been towed out of the water as of Sunday, with two still submerged.
The Travis County Sheriff’s Office said it is difficult to tally at this time the number of vessels that were part of the parade, how many sank, and how many needed rescuing since other boaters had assisted many people before the first responders arrived. Fortunately, no injuries or medical emergencies occurred, according to the Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services.
The Travis County Fire and EMS dispatchers described “very rough” conditions on the lake. There was also no hurricane or weather disturbance affecting the area. The sheriff’s department said the turbulent water was probably caused by the “many, many” boats in the water. All the crowded ships moving at the same time caused the water to wake and swamped many boats trailing behind.
Pacey Chynoweth, the parade’s organizer, said before the event, “In the middle of this COVID thing… this is a safe, effective way that we can socially distance. We can be in groups of ten or less.” Thousands of people who attended the event seem to share her sentiment, with some even saying the coronavirus pandemic never concerned them.
This unconcerned way of thinking by Trump supporters is likely caused by the false information previously shared by the President on Twitter, claiming that most coronavirus deaths are due to underlying illnesses, aside from COVID-19 complications. CDC has said that comorbidities are common, but the COVID-19 should not be negated as the primary cause of death. Twitter has removed the tweet shared by Trump, saying it violated its rules.