The drownings of two children Saturday added to the growing number of deaths and serious injuries at an off-road park and marina near Crosby, where the facility’s operators blamed inattentive family members for the most recent tragedy.

At least six people have died and several people have been seriously injured at Xtreme Off Road Park and Beach since 2019, according to law enforcement authorities, court records and news reports. The 1,600-acre park in northeast Harris County touts wooded trails, camping spots, tiki huts, jet ski rentals and a boat ramp with access to the San Jacinto River.

The latest deaths involved a 6-year-old boy and 12-year-old girl who did not resurface after going underwater while swimming at about 9 p.m. Saturday, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said. 

The children’s bodies were found just past midnight after sheriff’s officials deployed a robot with sonar capabilities, sheriff’s Maj. Jesse Razo told OnScene TV.

The Harris County medical examiner’s office had not released the names of the children as of midday Sunday. Razo said family members of the children were at the scene of the drowning.

In a brief exchange with the Houston Landing, a person using Xtreme Off Road Park and Beach’s Facebook account who identified themselves as the park’s manager said the children had been left alone by their parents and were swimming unaccompanied at the park’s marina, where only boat launching is allowed. 

“Parents have to be aware of the dangers of the river, let alone at night,” the message author wrote. “We hate to see this happen when it could have been avoided.”

Chris Carroll, the park’s media and marketing manager, told the Houston Landing on Sunday that the drownings occurred near the marina’s boat ramp, an area where there is not a lifeguard on duty and signage tells guests that they swim at their own risk. The children were guests at the marina, Carroll said.

Carroll added that staff members routinely post about safety precautions to prevent injuries. When deaths or injuries occur, signage and postings about safety precautions are increased, Carroll said.

“You can only go so far without a one-to-one supervision ratio with everybody that’s participating in activities at the park,” Carroll said. “You do your best with fair warnings and signage and things of that nature.”

A person using the park’s Instagram account on Sunday morning offered condolences and suggested staff members took precautions to prevent such incidents. 

“What’s next, babysit every single one of you?” the Instagram user wrote.

Entrance to Xtreme Off Road Park & Beach, where two children drowned.
The entrance to Xtreme Off Road Park and Beach, where two children drowned Saturday near Crosby. (Marie D. De Jesús / Houston Landing)

At least four people have died at the park in ATV-related crashes since 2020, according to news reports. The most recent death came in May, when a man crashed his ATV, went underwater and did not resurface. Two other deaths involved people who flipped their ATV and one death followed a crash between two vehicles.

Xtreme Off Road Park and Beach has also been sued by at least five people since 2019, the majority of whom claimed in their lawsuits that unsafe or unmarked trails led to flipped ATVs and injuries.

Three of those cases are pending, one ended with an undisclosed settlement and one was dismissed. Court records suggest the dismissed case might have resulted in a settlement, though a resolution isn’t specified. Xtreme Off Road Park and Beach officials have denied legal responsibility in all five cases.

Vehicles wait for their turn to enter Xtreme Off Road Park & Beach near Crosby.
Vehicles wait enter Xtreme Off Road Park and Beach on Sunday near Crosby. Two children drowned on the marina side of the park Saturday night. (Marie D. De Jesús / Houston Landing)

Harris County also sought an injunction against Xtreme Off Road Park and Beach and its owner, Edgar Gonzalez, in 2020, alleging violations of local fire codes and state shutdown orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Court records show an official with the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office determined that none of the park’s structures had building permits. 

The county later dropped the case after winning a temporary injunction against the park related to the permitting issues. The judge in the case found that the pandemic shutdown order didn’t apply to Xtreme Off Road Park and Beach because it qualified as a provider of recreational sport programs.

Efforts to reach Gonzalez were unsuccessful Sunday. Cars filled the off-roading side of the park Sunday afternoon, but patrons were not seen on the marina side.

Update, July 16, 6:45 p.m.: This story has been updated in include comment from Chris Carroll.

Staff writer Tim Carlin and director of photography Marie D. De Jesús contributed to this report.

Republish our articles for free, online or in print.

Monroe Trombly is a public safety reporter at the Houston Landing. Monroe comes to Texas from Ohio. He most recently worked at the Columbus Dispatch, where he covered breaking and trending news. Before...