Boy, 9, killed in Wolf River tubing accident

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A New Orleans family is in mourning after a day of fun on the Wolf River turned into tragedy. A tube tied to a boat slammed into a tree with three people riding on it, killing a 9-year-old boy.

"When I saw the mom run to the boat crying and the dad was screaming to leave everything and get on the boat that's whenever I knew something was bad. Whenever the mom got to the boat she just broke out into tears and was screaming," said Jaime Dennis who was out boating with his friends and family.

It was shortly after 4pm when authorities got the call about 9-year-old Joseph Schmidt of New Orleans, who was injured on the water.

"We got a call of a tubing accident on the Wolf River," said Jimmy Hester with the Department of Marine Resources.

DMR officials say Schmidt was riding with two others when their boat turned a corner and the tube hit a tree.

"The dad and the other brother were crying and the mom had ran to the boat and seen what happened. And they left all their stuff behind the camera, clothes and ice chest behind and they all took off. And I heard one of the kids say, he was still breathing and that's when I knew it was bad," said Dennis.

Witnesses say when the boy fell off, his family rushed him back to Riverside Landing Boat Launch off Menge Avenue in Pass Christian, where he was picked up by AMR and brought to the hospital. Around two hours later he died.

As investigators work to uncover what caused the deadly accident, DMR officials say tubing always comes with dangerous risks.

"They can be. It just determines how the people are pulling the boats and what speed and what area, how narrow the rivers are. But they can be dangerous," said Hester.

DMR officials say the boy was wearing a life jacket and was on the tube with two siblings.

"I've been on boats my whole life. I actually work on shrimp boat and oyster boat out at the Pass harbor and I've actually never seen anything happen like this. I mean I've seen people fall off boats. I've seen boats flip. But I've never seen anybody get hurt like this, for it to happen to a kid that was heartbreaking," said Dennis.

The investigation is still ongoing. DMR officials are still talking to witnesses and trying to determine whether negligence and alcohol where involved in the accident. DMR is also still investigating another tubing accident that happened on the Biloxi River on Saturday.

Copyright 2014 WLOX. All rights reserved.