Water fun turns deadly for Brownsville middle school student

The number 24, made out of Styrofoam cups, adorns Stell Middle School TMs fence in Brownsville, while condolences are up on the school's marquis sign.

It TMs all to honor a 7th grader killed over the weekend.

Texas Parks and Wildlife officials said 13-year-old Joshua Alvarez died Saturday when he and his older brother, a 17-year-old student at Pace High School, crashed their jet ski into a boat on the Laguna Madre.

Game Warden Jarret Barker said the high school student was maneuvering the water craft.

"They come out of a circle and they accelerate real fast, and kind of go into another series of spins, Barker explained. He was doing that type of activity and he came out of his last circle and went to accelerate, and that was the same time the boat was coming through.

Barker said the jet ski the boys were riding had been rented was rented by their father and a second adult, from a South Padre Island business.

He said while the boys weren't too young to operate the water craft, neither had gone through the water craft operator's course required by the state.

"At a bare minimum you have to be at least 13 years of age and have completed a boater education course, Barker said. Or you could be at least 13 and accompanied by someone who is at least 18 and satisfied a boater education requirement, or was exempted.

The course teaches water craft operators laws such as wearing a personal floatation device when operating the watercraft at all times, you have to wear a kill switch attached to the operator (and) you cannot operate in any circular manner around other fisherman - you have to stay at least 50 feet away."

Barker said jet skis are not toys and can be powerful and potentially dangerous machines.

"They're equivalent to a motorcycle on the road, Barker said. The personal water craft (the teens were using) had a horsepower rating of 110l, and it can accelerate upwards of 70 miles an hour. At that speed in the water, it can be like hitting a brick wall.

Upcoming water craft operator courses can be found by clicking on the following link.