FWC releases report on teen’s canoeing death in Julington Creek

News4JAX on Tuesday obtained a report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission into a canoeing accident in Julington Creek, in which a 16-year-old boy died.

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – News4JAX on Tuesday obtained a report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission into a canoeing accident in Julington Creek, in which a 16-year-old boy died.

The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office was sent to investigate on the evening of Feb. 20 when Riley Teixeira vanished after the canoe that he and two other boys were in overturned.

According to the FWC report, Teixeira stood up, causing the boat to flip with the others on board. It states that Teixeira began to panic and the two other passengers on board attempted to help, but were unable to do so.

It was previously reported by the FWC, but also noted in the report, that there were no life jackets on board, which is required in Florida for all vessels under 16 feet. The other passengers aboard the boat swam to a dock and contacted a neighbor who called 911.

The 16-year-old’s body was found the following day as authorities searched the water.

Gaje Duerr was one of the passengers on the boat. He spoke to News4JAX during a vigil for the teenager.

“He made the biggest impact on people, and when I was at the lowest point of my life, he was the person that helped me gain confidence again,” Duerr told us.

The report determined that Teixeira’s cause of death was drowning and a spinal contusion. FWC said that when Teixeira fell from the canoe, he possibly struck the back of his neck, which might have caused a cervical spine injury.

Karen Parker, with the FWC, said one of the most important things someone can do when out on the water is wear a life jacket.

“I just read the stats for 2021, and the leading cause of death on the water last year was drowning,” Parker said. So a lot of people say, ‘Well, I know how to swim. I don’t need a life jacket.’ Well, if you fall out of the boat and you become incapacitated or you’re injured, then, you know, there’s a better chance of you drowning.”

The FWC recommends boaters have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved fire extinguisher, visual distress signal, sound-producing device, flare device and vessel lighting.


About the Author:

Brie Isom joined the News4JAX team in January 2021 after spending three years covering news in South Bend, Indiana.