Head of Houston investment firm one of two dead in Sunday boat crash

The head of a prominent Houston-based investment firm was one of two people killed before dawn Sunday in a boat crash on Lake Austin.

Shawn Hurwitz, CEO of Maxxam Inc., which works in forest products and real estate development and owns half of Sam Houston Race Park, was among five people on the vessel reported to have struck a barge. A second victim, believed to be a woman in her 20s, remained unidentified Sunday.

Three others were taken to a hospital with injuries not considered to be life-threatening, officials said.

In a statement issued hours after the wreck, J. Kent “Kenny” Friedman, a family friend, said Hurwitz’s “generous spirit and huge heart touched so many people over the years that this news will be devastating to people across the state and nation.”

“We don’t have a lot of details at this time and ask for a degree of privacy as his loving family and friends mourn this tragic loss,” Friedman said. “Please keep the Hurwitz family and the families of the others involved in the accident in your hearts and prayers in the days ahead.”

Authorities on Sunday continued to investigate the boat crash; it was unclear whether speed was a factor.

Hurwitz, 50, was pronounced dead at the scene near Emma Long Metropolitan Park in the 1500 block of Manana Street in West Austin about 6:15 a.m., about an hour after the incident was reported, said Cmdr. Mike Benavides, spokesman for Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services.

The second victim was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge, where she died several hours later.

Hurwitz took over Maxxam in 2007, replacing his father, Charles Hurwitz, who remained CEO and chairman of Maxxam’s board of directors.

Shawn Hurwitz also was deeply committed to the Knowledge Is Power Program, or KIPP, where he served as chairman emeritus of the board for KIPP’s eight schools in Houston.

He was a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and had an MBA from the University of Texas.

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