Suspect charged with homicide in boat tragedy that killed 4-year-old

The operator of the house boat that hit and killed a 4-year-old girl Friday was charged Sunday with criminally negligent homicide.

TEMPLE, Texas -- The operator of the houseboat that hit and killed a 4-year-old girl Friday was charged Sunday with criminally negligent homicide.

Jason Stuart Bernal was initially arrested and booked in the Bell County Jail Saturday morning.

Kaitlyn Oliver, 4, was in the water at Temple Lake Park around 6:47 p.m. Friday when a 911 caller told police the houseboat backed up and caught her in its propeller. Her father, Patrick, tried to save Kaitlyn, but his legs were severed in the process, police said Friday.

Kaitlyn was pronounced dead at Baylor Scott & White Hospital in Temple at 7:45 p.m., according to Temple Police Spokesperson Shawana Neely. Justice of the Peace David Barfield ordered an autopsy.

Patrick is listed in serious condition, according to Temple Police Department. 

Bernal's bond is set at $150,000. 

Temple Police are still investigating the case and they said other charges may be forthcoming.

KCEN-TV Legal Analyst Liz Mitchell said criminally negligent homicide is a state jail felony. If convicted, Bernal could be sentenced to between 180 days and up to two years in state jail -- not penitentiary. Prior convictions or any circumstances revealed during the investigation of this case could potentially cause the charge and punishment range to be enhanced, Mitchell said.

The Oliver family launched a GoFundMe page to help cover funeral and medical expenses. Learn more by clicking here.

 

© 2017 KCEN-TV


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