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Ellsworth boy drowns in Texas

Corpus Christi police officers were on the scene when a 13-year-old Ellsworth boy’s body was found near Mustang Island State Park at 12:40 p.m. Monday, Oct. 16. (Photo courtesy of KZTV Action 10 News, Corpus Christi, Texas)

CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS -- A 13-year-old Ellsworth boy who went missing while swimming with his brothers in the Gulf of Mexico was found dead Monday.

Neuces County Medical Examiner Hugo Stimmler confirmed the boy to be Gabriel Carpenter. He died from drowning.

Travis Pace, a senior officer with the Corpus Christi Police Department Public Information Office in Corpus Christi, Texas, confirmed the boy was found at 12:40 p.m. Monday, Oct. 17 in the 9300 block of Highway 361 near Mustang Island State Park.

Carpenter and his brothers were apparently swimming in the Gulf of Mexico at Beach Access Road 3 off Highway 361 near Corpus Christi, Texas, Stimmler said, when they went out too far on a flotation device late Sunday afternoon.

“The 13-year-old was having a hard time making it back,” Pace said.

He went on to say that Carpenter went under, and his brothers went for help at about 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 16.

An extensive air and water search ensued, including Corpus Christi police and fire department and the U.S. Coast Guard. The search was called off later that night and resumed again Monday morning, Pace said.

Carpenter’s body was found about two miles from where he had been swimming.

“The first question we always ask is ‘are they from out of town,’ then, ‘are they a strong swimmer?’” Pace said. “Here we have riptides that are just a beast and if you’re not local, you won’t know and all of a sudden you’re 100 or 200 yards offshore. It’s a real tragedy.”

Stimmler echoed Pace’s cautionary warnings about riptides.

“It’s very tragic,” Stimmler said. “The Gulf down here can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Stimmler said the family was staying in San Antonio. It was unknown if they were on vacation. The parents’ names were not released, per Neuces County Medical Examiner’s Office policy.

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in February 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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