Authorities continued to investigate Monday what caused a water scooter crash that killed a TCU student and a recent University of Missouri graduate early Saturday at Lake Palo Pinto.
Tanner Poeschel, 22, of Fort Worth and Harrison Smith, 22, of Signal Mountain, Tenn., were fatally injured in the accident. On Sunday, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department spokeswoman said investigators believe the watercraft struck a boat dock.
Texas game wardens and the Palo Pinto County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call at about 1:20 a.m. Saturday reporting an accident involving a water scooter. The caller said that two of his friends had left a lake house on the watercraft. Later, he heard a loud crash from the direction the friends headed, according to a news release from parks and wildlife.
After a search of the area, officers located the water scooter and a debris field along with the bodies of Poeschel and Smith. Both men were wearing life jackets.
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Family and friends of the two young men honored their memory.
Smith, an economics major at TCU from Tennessee, had been working as an intern at the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. He was described as being intellectual with a sense of humor and a passion for Fort Worth.
“He was an exceptional young man,” said Netty Matthews, vice president of membership for the chamber. She said Smith approached the chamber about six months ago looking for an opportunity. He left a good impression and worked with Matthews to explore ways to increase the chamber membership experience.
“We were greatly saddened to hear yesterday that a jet-ski accident took the life of this exceptional young man and his best friend,” reads a post on the chamber’s Facebook page. “Harrison Smith worked in our membership department and was looking forward to graduation from TCU in December. He was professional, polite and passionate about Fort Worth.”
Matthews said Smith wore business suits almost every day — except once when he wore a purple, collared golf shirt.
She said Smith liked to delve into data and was a master of the Rubik’s Cube. “He had two Rubik’s Cubes in his office and he could solve them in no time at all,” she said.
Andra Bennett, spokeswoman for the chamber, said Smith stood out as very professional and reliable. He worked as a TCU tour guide and was an assistant to TCU Chancellor Victor J. Boshcini Jr.
Poeschal’s Facebook page kept his profile intact: “Remembering Tanner Poeschel! We hope people who love Tanner will find comfort in visiting his profile to remember and celebrate his life.”
The Poeschel family asked for privacy Monday as the case is investigated.
Poeschel graduated from the University of Missouri in May, according to the university. He earned a bachelor of science degree in business administration.
On social media, he showcased his passion for fly fishing and is credited with founding Mizzou’s first fly fishing club. On the taylorrivertroutbum.com website, Poeschel described himself as “Texan By Birth, Trout Bum At Heart.”
“I am an ordinary guy who loves fly fishing,” he wrote in his bio. “Originally, I am from Fort Worth, Texas, but I have fly-fished across the country. I started off bass fishing when I was a little kid and soon after turned into an avid fly fisher.”
This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.