The sheriff’s department in Austin, Texas, said five boats sank during a boat parade in support of President Trump on Lake Travis on Saturday afternoon. The Travis County Sheriff’s Office said they responded to a total of 15 distress calls which varied and included: boats taking on water, stalled engines, capsized boats and boats sinking.
TCSO said as of Sunday, three boats have been towed out of the water and two remain submerged.
CBS Austin affiliate KEYE reports that boats began sinking almost immediately as the parade started, according to the Travis County Sheriff’s Office.
According to the sheriff’s department, the wake in the water was caused by “many, many” boats on the water.
It’s unclear at this time how many total boats were part of the parade or how many sank. The Travis County Sheriff’s office said it is difficult to tally those numbers, as well as how many people needed rescuing, due to how many people were assisted by other boaters on the lake before first responders arrived, KEYE reports.
KEYE spoke to the parade’s organizer, Pacey Chynoweth, 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,” she said.
“I think that this is the silent majority, and I think that this is a safe, fun way that we can speak, communicate and stand up for what we believe in,” Chynoweth said.
Over 8,000 people marked themselves as attending the parade on Facebook as of Sunday. One attendee told KEYE that crowding around the lake during the coronavirus pandemic never concerned her.
“I don’t have a boat, so I wanted to watch the parade and do my best to support four more years of our president,” said Gina Bahel of Liberty Hill.
“I am a school teacher. I think our kids belong back in school. I think COVID has been overrated,” she said. “I know people have lost loved ones, but if we look at the not-underlying-issues cases, it’s not that huge.” Bahel appears to have been referencinglast month that claims the vast majority of COVID-19 deaths are due to underlying illnesses.
Mr. Trump retweeted a post originally shared by Twitter user “Mel Q,” a supporter of the unfounded QAnon conspiracy theory, that claimed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “quietly updated the Covid number” to show a small fraction of all coronavirus deaths — 6% — were “actually” a result of COVID-19. The vast majority of deaths, the post claimed, were because of “other serious illnesses.”
For months the CDC has regularly updated its information on deaths that list COVID-19. Comorbidities, “deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19,” are common, but do not negate COVID-19 as the primary cause of death.
Twitter later removed the tweet shared by Mr. Trump, saying it violated its rules.