San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

June 11th, 2012
Updated: Dripping Springs man dies in Texas Water Safari

UPDATED 5:49 p.m. JUNE 11:

A Texas Parks & Wildlife game warden tells the Victoria Advocate that he is investigating Texas Water Safari racer Brad Ellis’ death.

Brad Ellis, 30, of Dripping Springs died Monday afternoon in San Antonio after being evacuated by helicopter from the Guadalupe River early Sunday. Rescuers plucked Ellis from the river about 11 miles downriver from the Gonzales city dam on the 98th mile of the 280-mile race.

Ian Rolls, the other man in Ellis’ boat, told game warden Dan Waddell that “he had been rowing for the last 20 miles by himself and the other gentlemen had given up and laid down for a nap in the boat,” Waddell told the Victoria Advocate. He has jurisdiction to inquire into the cause of Ellis’ death because the canoeist became ill while traveling a state waterway

Rolls accidentally tipped over the canoe while pushing off the bank after stopping, Waddell said Rolls told him, plunging Ellis into the water. Rolls pulled Ellis out of the water, the newspaper reports.

Boat No. 22 is shown passing through the Cottonseed Rapids on the San Marcos River in Martindale on Saturday with Brad Ellis paddling in the front. Ellis, a 30-year-old Dripping Springs resident, was airlifted from the Guadalupe River early Sunday and died in a San Antonio hospital on Monday. WATER SAFARI PHOTO by ERICH SCHLEGEL


A Dripping Springs man competing in the grueling 280-mile Texas Water Safari died in a San Antonio hospital today where he had been airlifted from the Guadalupe River south of Gonzales.

Brad Ellis, 30, was pronounced dead at about 2 p.m. Monday at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, a hospital spokesperson told the San Antonio Express News. A statement issued by Texas Water Safari board president Allen Spelce said Ellis died of hyponatremia, a condition of low sodium concentration in the blood stream that results in brain swelling.

“The water safari participants are a very close knit community and everyone is deeply saddened by the tragedy. We extend our condolences to Brad’s family and share in their grief,” Spelce said in a statement.

Ellis and his safari partner, 34-year-old Ian Rolls, embarked on the race Saturday morning in San Marcos along with about 130 other racers. Ellis was removed from the river between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday morning, the Victoria Advocated reported yesterday, when his boat flagged down other participants to ask for help.

According to GPS tracking data, Ellis and Rolls “scratched” from the race at at about 4 a.m. Saturday at mile 98.19 mile of the 280-mile route from San Marcos to Seadrift. The canoe had maintained an average speed of 5.1 mph for its nearly 19 hours on the water, the data states, with only nine minutes of “stopped” time.

Boat 314 added a third consecutive win to their record when they reached Seadrift first last night after 37 hours en route. As of 5 p.m. Monday, 18 boats had completed the trek with 93 still paddling toward the finish line. Twenty-four teams have dropped out so far.

More photos of Boat 22

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One thought on “Updated: Dripping Springs man dies in Texas Water Safari

  1. Please check your sources and details before you post stories like this. Ian Rolls is misquoted by the game warden twice above, and those facts are incorrect.

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