STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY
LLANO COUNTY — A man’s death after jumping from a bluff into Lake Buchanan has prompted a cautionary note by water safety officials as people descend on the Highland Lakes this Fourth of July weekend.
The incident happened at about 3:45 p.m. June 25 on the upper end of Lake Buchanan near the confluence of Fall Creek and the Colorado River.
Joshua Reid, 39, of Burnet County was on an outing with friends when it occurred.
“He was swimming there and climbed up on the bluff or an elevated rock, jumped off, hit the water, may have surfaced for just a second, then went down,” said Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Warden Cody Hatfield. “His friends were not able to get to him. They called 9-1-1, who responded within minutes.”
The Buchanan Dam Volunteer Fire Department dive team recovered Reid’s body about two hours later in about 10-12 feet of water in the area where he went under.
A Llano County official has ordered an autopsy to determine the specific cause of death.
The area of the lake where the incident occurred is straddled by 20- to 30-foot bluffs and known for its idyllic views and quaint waterfalls.
“People jump off rocks, bluffs all the time,” Hatfield said. “That’s in an area of the river where there’s lots of debris. … It can fill up with gravel, logs.”
The dangers of jumping into waterways from heights of 20 feet or higher include:
- hazardous landing conditions caused by the changing landscape of a waterway’s floor;
- stress and damage to the body such as compression of the spine, broken bones, or a concussion when landing in the water;
- inexperience in the proper jumping technique, leading to potential body trauma (mastering the “pencil” entry with arms held tightly to one’s side, feet pressed together and pointed downward reduces some risk);
- and challenging shoreline surfaces that threaten safe footing when exiting the water.
“Not saying he hit anything (after he jumped in), but … that’s always the danger when you jump from an elevated position — head first, feet first,” Hatfield said. “That’s part of the risk if you can’t see under the water.”