The houseboat driver arrested in connection with the tragic, horrifying death of a four-year-old girl this weekend was allegedly warned by screaming bystanders that people were behind his boat as he put it in reverse — going at full throttle.
According to a police affidavit obtained by KWTX, multiple witnesses who were at Temple Lake Park in Temple, Texas, Friday evening told police Jason Bernal put his three-story boat into reverse when four-year-old Kaitlyn Oliver and her father Patrick were standing behind it in waist-deep water.
One witness said she was standing near the little girl and her father when she heard the boat’s engine start up, and said she was “shouting that people were behind the boat when the boat began to back up.”
Another witness said “the boat was in full throttle while backing up.”
Fox News reports that a witness had previously told Bernal “not to park in this area because there are children swimming in this area.”
Bernal reportedly told police that he could not see that anyone was behind the boat when he put it in reverse, and that he stopped when he heard someone warning him.
As Crime Online previously reported, Kaitlyn was caught up in the boat’s propeller and suffered severe lacerations. When her father Patrick tried to rescue her, the propeller amputated his legs.
Kaitlyn was pronounced dead at a local hospital Friday evening, shortly after the horrific accident.
KWTX reports that Patrick Oliver, 37, remains in serious condition in a hospital and appears to be disoriented and agitated.
“He’s having a hard time understanding that he couldn’t save his little girl,” Kaitlyn’s aunt told the news station.
“When he’s awake his heart rate gets too high because of how upset he is.”
According to KWTX, the girl and her father had run into a friend at the park who had a boat and offered them a ride – Kaitlyn’s first. The little girl wore a lifejacket as she headed back to shore with her father, when the houseboat backed into them.
Kaitlyn’s grandmother was reportedly at the scene of the accident. She and Kaitlyn’s mother were both hospitalized and are reportedly under observation for emotional trauma.
Bernal was arrested on charges of criminally negligent homicide. He is currently free on $150,000 bail.
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