Man Arrested After Pushing Texas Ranger Into Lake For Enforcing Social Distancing

by Madison Vanderberg
Austin Police Department / CBS Austin Facebook

Texas park ranger pushed into a lake for educating a group of people who were ignoring social distancing rules

As the stay-at-home orders extend into the summer, people are getting restless and venturing outside, crowding parks and beaches, and putting their lives and the lives of the community at risk during the coronavirus pandemic. On Thursday, April 30, 2020, a group gathered in close proximity at Lake Austin at Common Fords Park in Austin, Texas, so a park ranger approached the group and calmly explained how they needed to abide by the social distancing guidelines. Apparently upset by the rules, a man in the crowd pushed the ranger into the lake and darted away.

The incident was captured on Snapchat and later shared on Twitter and because of this, the culprit — 25-year-old Brandon James Hick — was arrested and charged with attempted assault on a public servant, a state jail felony.

The police affidavit, as obtained by local news affiliate KXAN, stated that not only was the crowd ignoring the social distancing guidelines but that they were unlawfully smoking and drinking in the park.

“The Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) is saddened by the action taken against our Park Ranger. City of Austin Parks Rangers are essential workers who’ve been on the front-line of the City’s response to COVID-19. They continue to work long hours educating the public on the various operational changes at parks and other PARD facilities,” the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department said in a statement (via CBS Austin).

The Parks Department added that the ranger was doing his job to educate and “engage residents on the proper use of park facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic,” and the person who filmed the video told KXAN that “the park ranger was actually being really sweet and understanding before.”

The police, however, were more to the point, and stated in the affidavit that Hicks’ “intentional and reckless action could have caused the Ranger to strike his head on the dock as he was falling, and render himself unconscious in at least 3 feet of water where he could have drowned to death.”

The silver lining here is that someone on Reddit who knows the ranger says he “loves his job and the environment” and that this incident “won’t deter him or his work.”

The police were mostly focused on Hicks’ behavior and the park ranger’s safety, but there didn’t seem to be much concern about all the people crowding a watering hole during a national health crisis. From the beaches of California to the Florida shores, people refuse to take this pandemic seriously and continue to march out to the beach in droves, defying the social distancing guidelines. Is going to the beach really worth the risk? Is it really?