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Two men die from drowning at Balmorhea State Park

Carlos Morales
Marfa Public Radio
"Balmorhea State Park's spring-fed pool spans over an acre and is up to 25 feet deep."

Two men died on June 30 after drowning in the spring-fed pool at Balmorhea State Park, officials said Tuesday.

In a statement, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said that 82-year-old Ernest Manchin and his son-in-law, 56-year-old Gary Wong, both drowned while swimming.

The department said Manchin was snorkeling in a deeper section of the pool when he began to drown, and as rescue efforts were underway to help him, Wong “also went under water and did not resurface.”

Law enforcement and emergency medical services were dispatched to help the two men, but despite CPR and other medical treatment being administered they were later pronounced dead at a hospital in Pecos, Texas.

According to the department, Manchin lived in Dripping Springs, Texas. Wong was from East Brunswick, New Jersey.

The spring fed pool spans over an acre and can get as deep as 25 feet. The park does not have a lifeguard on duty while it is open — the Balmorhea State Park’s website warns visitors to “swim at your own risk.”

“Our condolences are with their families and friends during this difficult time,” the department said.

Editor's note: an earlier version of this story misspelled Ernest Manchin's first name.

Mitch Borden is Permian Basin Reporter & Producer at Marfa Public Radio.