ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Florida. – News4JAX obtained a report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on Tuesday about a canoeing accident in Julington Creek, in which a 16-year-old boy died.
The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to investigate on the evening of February 20 when Riley Teixeira went missing after the canoe he and two other boys were in overturned.
According to the FWC report, Teixeira got up, causing the boat to overturn with the others on board. It indicates that Teixeira began to panic and that the other two passengers on board tried to help, but were unable to do so.
It was previously reported by the FWC, but also noted in the report, that there were no life jackets on board, which is required in Florida for all vessels under 16ft. The other passengers on the boat swam to a dock and contacted a neighbor who called 911.
The 16-year-old’s body was found the next day as authorities searched the water.
Gaje Duerr was one of the passengers on the boat. He spoke to News4JAX at a vigil for the teenager.
“He had the biggest impact on people, and when I was at the lowest point in my life, he was the one who helped me regain my confidence,” Duerr told us.
The report determined Teixeira’s cause of death to be drowning and spinal contusion. FWC said when Teixeira fell from the canoe he may have hit his neck which could have caused a cervical spine injury.
Karen Parker of the FWC said one of the most important things anyone can do while on the water is to wear a life jacket.
“I just read the stats for 2021, and the leading cause of death on the water last year was drowning,” Parker said. So a lot of people say, ‘Well, I can swim. I don’t need a life jacket. Well, if you fall off the boat and become incapacitated or injured, then, you know, there’s a higher chance that you’ll drown.
The FWC recommends that boaters have a US Coast Guard approved fire extinguisher, visual distress signal, sound producing device, flare device, and vessel lighting.
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