East County man killed in boating accident was engaged to be married in November

   Fiancée, friends, left struggling to understand why, and to pay his final expenses… 

When a pair of lifelong friends from East Montgomery County went fishing on Lake Houston last Saturday, they had no way of knowing one of their lives would end and the other would be forever changed. Jeremy Niesen, 47, died as a result of what police said was a “head-on collision” with another boat. Robert Ray, also 47, was injured but the injuries were not life threatening.

According to Noah Ray, Robert’s older brother, the collision occurred in the area of Ponderosa Point, in a blind curve that was heavily wooded. Niesen and Ray were in an aluminum boat that collided with a ski boat that went over the top of the smaller aluminum boat, knocking the pedestal seat off of the boat along with Niesen and the dog he was holding. Niesen disappeared into the murky water and wasn’t found until Monday. Noah Ray said the people in the other boat apparently helped Robert Ray to shore. Ray had broken ribs and other non-life-threatening injuries, his family said. Two men and a woman were on the other boat. The woman had minor injuries and was transported to the hospital by ambulance, along with Robert Ray. The two men on the ski boat were not transported.

Niesen was like a brother to Robert Ray. They were childhood friends who remained inseparable, according to Robert’s older brother, Noah Ray. Both had what was called an “intellectual disability” and formed an instant bond in school. The Ray family was known for helping people, and took Niesen in as one of their own. The entire family accepted him, and he lived with them until he found the love of his life, who works at a daycare owned by a member of the Ray family. Robert Ray’s father died just six weeks ago, Noah Ray said. Niesen was holding the recently deceased Ray’s dog when the boats collided.

Niesen was on a good path, by all accounts. He was working, and his boss was also his landlord, who discounted the rent on the home Niesen shared with his fiancée, Shirley. The couple planned to be married in November. Niesen didn’t have life insurance, since their bills took all their money. His fiancée is devastated by his loss, and doesn’t know how she’ll pay incoming bills, much less pay for a funeral.

Troy Shuford, who employed Niesen and realized Niesen’s friends and fiancée were his only real family, has set up a GoFundMe account to help Niesen’s fiancée with his final expenses and her bills. As of this posting, only $150 of the $10,000 goal was met.

To contribute, visit

Prayers are also requested for Shirley and for the Ray siblings, who are dealing with this loss so soon after losing their father.

Jeremy Niesen and his fiancée, Shirley

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