Sister of 20-year-old drowning victim: I just feel like I could have helped


Posted on July 1, 2014 at 5:45 PM

HOUSTON – A family is mourning after a late-night swim among friends turned into tragedy early Tuesday.

Amber Tubbs said she had to see the spot where her big brother drowned so a family friend drove her to the private lake in the Royal Forest Subdivision of Willis where the tragedy occurred sometime after midnight.

“I babysat all these kids. They’re like my family,” said family friend Neva Fields.

Amber Tubbs is convinced she might have saved her brother if she had been with him.  

“I just feel like I could have helped,” she said sobbing.  “I want to help and I can’t do nothing to make him come back.”

Montgomery County authorities said Halbert Deon Tubbs, Jr., 20, went swimming with his younger brother and two teenage girls. They swam from a dock to a floating dock about 200 feet away.  Tubbs went under.  He had asthma and may have suffered an attack.   His younger brother Lamar tried in vain to get him to shore.

“My brother said that he started panicking and my brother said, ‘Calm down,’” Amber Tubbs said. “But, you know, in that moment all he knew is that he was drowning.”

Authorities said one of the girls called 911 but it was too late.

Tubbs just moved back in with his parents a week ago.  His sister said he was an aspiring rapper, had attended college and was looking to make a fresh start.  She said her family is reeling in every way, including financially.

“My parents, we have no idea how we are going to bury him,” Amber Tubbs said.

Some residents said there has been a population boom in the Royal Forest Subdivision that has led to more swimmers using the private lake.  One longtime resident said there has been at least one drowning a year in recent years.

Warning signs are posted everywhere but it doesn’t stem the tide of summer fun-seekers. 

Amber Tubbs said that’s all her brother was trying to do too—have a little summer fun.

Authorities said they have no evidence suggesting intoxication was a factor in this tragedy.