Rough waters from Tropical Storm Lee lead to Texas drowning

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 03, 2011 6:58 PM

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Rough waters off Galveston Island kicked up by Tropical Storm Lee led to the drowning death of a tourist on Saturday morning.

B.J. Petty, 34, of Lubbock, Texas, was out with some surfers about 10 a.m. when he lost his boogie board in the choppy water and drowned, said Chief Peter Davis of the Galveston Island Beach Patrol. His body was recovered about 150 yards from the beach a few hours later.

Davis said 30 mile per hour winds were creating rough conditions, even though the surf had dropped four feet Saturday due to Tropical Storm Lee. Choppy waters and rip currents had led to a couple of other rescues, Davis said, but no other fatalities.

Rip currents are channels of fast-moving water that occur at low points near shore, breaks in sandbars and near jetties and piers. They often present a danger to swimmers.

As Galveston approaches the third anniversary of Hurricane Ike, which devastated the city on September 13, 2008, tourism is still recovering.

Still, the threat of Lee in the Gulf of Mexico didn't keep too many people away from the island destination. The number of beachgoers was lighter than previous Labor Day weekends, Davis added. "But still, there are some pretty decent crowds."

"We weren't as busy as most 'busy' weekends, but there was still plenty of traffic," said Stephanie White, an employee at the Texas Seaport Museum.

(Reporting by Deborah Quinn Hensel; Editing by Jerry Norton)