TWO teen girls are dead in separate boating accidents over the Fourth of July weekend, leaving their respective families mourning the tragic losses.
Julia Budzinski, the 17-year-old daughter of Toronto Blue Jays first-base coach Mark Budzinski, was struck by a boat propeller while tubing in a Virginia river.
The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources confirmed to The Sun two children were floating in the James River in a tube pulled by a boat on Saturday, July 2, with family and friends.
Both girls got picked up in the water and fell off the tube.
The boat operator reportedly slowly turned the vessel around to get to them.
While doing so, a wave allegedly caused the boat to change direction.
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The boat then fell on top of a 17-year-old believed to be Budzinski, when she was hit in the head by the propellor.
The operator immediately jumped into the river to rescue the girl as did another passing boat operator, the department said.
Once they got the girl out of the water, they rushed to shore for help
"Lifejackets were worn, no foul play is suspected, and alcohol was not a factor," a department spokesperson said in a statement.
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"DWR sends their condolences to the friends and family during this unimaginable time," the statement added.
She was pronounced dead at the hospital.
A vigil was held on Sunday night at Glen Allen High School, where Julia was a student.
"It’s with a heavy heart to announce that the GAHS family is dealing with the (loss) of life of a student — Julia Budzinski,” Principal Reginald Davenport wrote on Twitter."
"She was the sweetest person," one young woman told WTVR.
"I remember when she would congratulate me… it just put a smile on my face."
Budzinski is reportedly taking time away from the team to be with his wife, Monica, and two other children, Josh and Lily.
Julia is their eldest child.
FOURTH OF JULY TRAGEDY
Two days later, the body of Madison Bradley, also 17, was recovered from the Blind River, according to the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries.
Madison was reported missing to agents around 5.40pm on Monday before she was found hours later.
The girl had been a passenger on a pontoon boat with five other people and agents said she was riding on the bow in front of the protective rail with a male passenger.
The two were knocked into the water after the boat hit a wake from a passing vessel.
Agents said Madison did not resurface after suffering severe prop strikes while the male passenger was able to resurface and only had minor injuries.
"She had her whole life ahead of her and the world has really lost something," said Madison's father, Mike Bradley to Fox8Live.
According to her mother, Leigh-Ann Bradley, the family was familiar with being out on the water.
"Yes absolutely, we had a boat on the Rigolets and we would go boating all the time," she said.
David Crowe, 33, the operator of the boat was arrested by the LDWF for vehicular homicide, operating or driving a vessel while impaired and reckless operation of a vessel.
"There was alcohol detected, where impairment is taken he was taken to another location where we put a breathalyzer on the 33-year-old driver," said Sgt Jeff Lanoux of the LDWF.
He was booked into the Livingston Parish Jail and is now out on a $101,000 bond.
If convicted of vehicular homicide, Crowe could face fines between $2,000 to $15,000 and five to 30 years in prison.
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Madison's body was turned over to the Livingston Parish Coroner's Office to determine her official cause of death.
"We highly recommend you wear a life jacket and the operator be sober and not drinking then take a boater education class," said Lanoux.
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