83 people rescued from paddlewheel boat in Texas

CONROE, Texas -- About 83 passengers and crew members were rescued from a paddlewheel boat on Lake Conroe in Texas Saturday.

It happened just before 11 p.m. Passengers on board the Southern Empress said a fishing boat was blocking the path to the dock. They said the captain blew the horn several times, but the fisherman did not move.

They said the paddlewheel boat then ran aground onto a sand bar near Bird Island.

"They wanted everyone in the back of the boat so they could get off the sand bar," a woman who was aboard at the time said. "Well, it didn't work and standing back there, we were getting soaking wet by the paddle boards and the diesel engines. That's all you could smell."

The woman said the cruise was supposed to end at 10 p.m., but she did not end up getting off until 11:45 p.m.

She said she watched as pontoon boats tied up to the Southern Empress and tried to pull it free, but were unsuccessful.

Eventually, rescue crews helped get passengers and crew members off the boat.

No injuries were reported. Officials said the lake is almost 2 feet below normal levels.

A similar situation happened back in 2015 when two boats also ran aground in the same area.

The boat was still stuck as of early Sunday afternoon. We asked the owners for a statement. They said they would provide one once they had dealt with the boat.
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