The Duncan Banner

June 23, 2013

Waurika Lake claims two more victims

Drownings unrelated, bodies recovered of Duncan, Waurika men

Jeff Kaley
The Duncan Banner

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.