When two people died in a Lake Fork boating accident last month, Texas game wardens went looking for answers.
Now they have something to help them when those situations arise—three-dimensional mapping tools with cutting edge GPS and laser instruments.
Game Wardens with Texas Parks and Wildlife are the lead officials in all marine enforcement and accidents.
"We were trying to come up with some type of sense out of a tragic accident to the best of our ability," TPWD Game Warden Maj. Alan Teague said.
Now, wardens are training for Texas Parks and Wildlife's "Storm" team, which is short for State Forensic Mapping.
"This technology is allowing us to push forward into an area that traditionally, game wardens haven't been," TPWD Game Warden Aryn Corley said.
With the new tool, wardens can set hundreds of data points, accurate within a fraction of an inch. The information will be used to create a three-dimensional model of the accident or crime scene. Then, investigators can actually recreate what witnesses might have seen.
"It allows a full 360 camera view,” Teague said. “In the event when somebody says they saw something, we can actually pan over to where that person would be and show people what they were witnessing."
TPWD investigators can then pass along the rendering to court officials for use in prosecutions.
"What this has now enabled us to do is taking us up in the technology world. We can actually draw a scene to scale. So the representation there is factual," Teague said.
Seventeen Texas Parks and Wildlife officers make up the Storm Team. They investigate waterway and hunting accidents statewide.