The Duncan Banner

Local News

June 23, 2013

Waurika Lake claims two more victims

Drownings unrelated, bodies recovered of Duncan, Waurika men

WAURIKA — For the second time in less than two weeks, death has intruded on what should be pleasant, relaxing experiences at Waurika Lake.

Two drownings occurred Friday, one resulting in the death of a Waurika resident and the other involving a Duncan man.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Jack Stranahan said the body of 41-year-old Gary Vance Burkhart II, of Waurika, was discovered shortly after 3:30 p.m..

A second report was released just after 1:30 p.m. Saturday, identifying Maximiliano Garcia, 18, of Duncan, as the second drowning victim, near the Chisolm Campground area.

According to Stranahan’s report, Garcia ran into the water to retrieve a soccer ball. He went into the water too far and began to struggle. Family members attempted to rescue him, but couldn’t reach him. His body was recovered at 9:16 a.m. Saturday, located by sidescan sonar and a drag bar.

Stranahan’s report on Burkhart, indicated that the victim and his wife had taken a boat onto the lake near the Kiowa 1 Campground and the pair were approximately 150 feet off the shoreline when they jumped from the boat to swim.

Shortly after the Burkharts entered water that Stranahan described as “extremely rough,” Tammy Price Burkhart heard her husband yell for assistance. Neither Burkhart was wearing a personal flotation device at the time and while she returned to the boat for a lifejacket, her husband submerged and did not return to the surface.

Stranahan, who is with Troop W, the OHP’s Marine Enforcement Division, was assisted in the search by Lt. George Hoyle and OHP Troopers Woody Perry, Daniel Proctor and Darin Carman. They discovered Gary Burkhart’s body within an hour of beginning the search.

The OHP personnel were quick in discovering Burkhart’s body because they had already been investigating a reported drowning that had occurred earlier on Friday. Recovery efforts in that situation were suspended Friday night and resumed Saturday morning.

Stranahan said the two drownings on Friday were unrelated.

Also assisting were personnel from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and Waurika Police Department.

The two deaths Friday at Waurika Lake were the second and third attributed to drowning since Saturday, June 8. On that day, Colton Dean Parnell, a 12-year-old from Roff, drowned off Mitchell Point. His body was retrieved on Tuesday, June 11.

Prior to Parnell’s death, the last drowning at Waurika Lake at the 10,100-acre Jefferson County lake was on July 7, 2012, when a 3-year-old boy from Ryan died after wandering into the water late at night.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Bench found competent, trial to start Monday

    A jury took 50 minutes on Thursday to find Miles Sterling Bench competent to stand trial for first-degree murder  and District Judge Joe Enos scheduled the trial to begin Monday.
    Bench, 23, of, Velma, is accused of the bludgeoning death of 16-year-old Braylee Henry of Velma. She was killed in June 2012 in the Teepee Totem convenience store in Velma where Bench was employed.

    April 18, 2014

  • 4-18 Miller and Decathlon 0016.jpg Miller pumps up decathlon students

    Dr. Ché Miller, who helped bridge a funding gap needed to send the Duncan High School Decathlon Team to the national competition in Hawaii, gave the team a pep talk on Thursday.
    Miller, recently recognized as the Man of the Year by the Duncan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told the students they are about to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and advised them to absorb as much of the experience as they can.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Churches prepare for Easter Sunday

    Churches throughout Duncan and Stephens County are preparing to celebrate Easter this Sunday, the day Christians celebrate the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven.
    Today is known as Good Friday to mark the day Christ was crucified on a cross.

    April 18, 2014

  • 4-18 lauren-ellis mug.jpg Ellis named new CEO of regional United Way

    Lauren Ellis, who’s led the United Way of Stephens County for more than two years, has been named the new chief executive officer of the United Way of Southwest Oklahoma.
    Her new job will be based in Lawton but Ellis said she will remain in Duncan and commute.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jurors to decide Bench competency issue today

    Jurors will hear final arguments on Thursday and then be asked to determine whether  23-year-old Miles Sterling Bench is mentally competent to stand trial for first-degree murder in the bludgeoning death of 16-year-old Braylee Henry nearly two years ago.

    April 17, 2014

  • 4-17 Decathlon Team1 0127.jpg DHS Decathlon Teams prepares

    Not every high school student gets an all-expense paid trip to Hawaii. But that’s exactly what’s happening with the 10 team members of the Duncan High School Decathlon Team.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Baseball tourney to be held in Wiles' memory

    The Duncan Middle School baseball team will hold a tournament in memory of the late Alyssa Wiles.

    April 17, 2014

  • Corporon memorial planned for Friday in Marlow

    A candlelight vigil for Dr. William Corporon and his grandson Reat Underwood will be held at Marlow High School at 8 p.m. Friday.

    April 17, 2014

  • Gay recuses himself from Morales trial

    Associate District Judge Dennis Gay on Wednesday disqualified himself from the trial of Dr. Oscar Morales Jr.

    April 17, 2014

  • Psychologists disagree on Bench’s mental competency

    Two psychologists on Tuesday offered differing opinions  about the mental competency of Miles Sterling Bench to stand trial for first-degree murder in the 2012 death of Braylee Henry.
    Bench, dressed in a dark blue suit, sat through a second day of court proceedings that will determine if the case against him goes to trial. The state is seeking the death penalty.

    April 16, 2014