The Cameron County Commissioners Court voted Tuesday to build new lifeguard towers on South Padre Island. Concerned about a recent drowning on Beach Access 5, the Commissioners Court approved the new towers, which will be manned by two lifeguards each. A patrol unit will provide additional supervision for the remainder of the summer. “Recently, we had a drowning at Beach Access 5, so commissioners wanted us to explore the idea of expanding lifeguard services to Beach Access 5,” said Cameron County Parks and Recreation Director Joe Vega.

In 2015, a total of 70 major medical emergencies were reported at beach accesses 5 and 6, along with 143 swimmers in distress and 132 lost children. In June, a 17 year-old Mission resident drowned while swimming at the beach. The two new towers, manned by four lifeguards, will be built along Beach Access 5 by next week. “We do have future plans to expand the lifeguard service from the entrance of beach access five to a mile long, but those are plans in the future and that’s gonna have to be discussed during the budget workshops,” Vega said.

By Nora Salinas