Rescue teams on Tuesday morning pulled the body of a man thought to be in his 30s from Lake Travis, near where another person had been reported missing over the weekend.
He was the second person found dead in Lake Travis in less than a month. At least two others last seen in the lake remain missing, according to the Travis County sheriff’s office.
The man was spotted floating in the water near Windy Point Park on the north shore of the lake. Nearby Bob Wentz Park was closed Tuesday as firefighters pulled him from the water. He had yet to be identified by authorities.
The sheriff’s office could not confirm whether the man found Tuesday was the same person who was last seen Sunday in the same area.
Sheriff’s deputies on Sunday received a call about a man who had disappeared after swimming from Bob Wentz Park to a small island off the shore. His friends said he had been sitting on a sandbar, yet when they checked back on him about 30 minutes later, he was gone.
Deputies searched the shoreline Sunday, conducted searches from the air and used sonar to search in the water, the sheriff’s office said.
On Tuesday, the sheriff’s office said its investigation was considering all scenarios, including one in which the man might not have returned to the water.
“The last time anyone laid eyes on him, he was on land,” sheriff’s spokeswoman Kristen Dark said. “That’s why we are looking in the water, but we are also still looking on surrounding land.”
Dark could not say if Tuesday’s body is the man who disappeared Sunday because the man found Tuesday has yet to be identified by the medical examiner or next of kin.
Two other people last seen on Lake Travis this year remain missing:
- 53-year-old Manuel Salas of Elgin, who was last seen May 5 near Mansfield Dam Park
- 25-year-old Rachel Kathleen Scott of Round Rock who was last seen on May 19 between Starnes Island and Volente Beach.
Sheriff’s deputies suspended the searches for both of them last month.
“We have, of course, our lake patrol deputies on duty every day,” Dark said. “As a part of their duties they are skimming the shoreline. They know there is a possibility someday that body will surface. But sometimes, unfortunately, we aren’t ever able to recover a body from the lake.”
Rescue teams on May 28 pulled the body of 30-year-old Diego Humberto Cerda-Acosta from Lake Travis, the day after he had jumped into the water to save a drowning woman. The body of 23-year-old Cesar Rafael Peña Villastrigo was recovered by dive teams in Lake Pflugerville on May 17, officials said.
“It’s not unprecedented for us to have drownings happen in close succession, but it does seem pretty early this year for us to have so many,” Dark said Tuesday.
Last year, six people died in Central Texas waterways, including four who drowned in Lake Travis and two in the Pedernales River, Dark said. In 2016, nine people drowned, including seven in Lake Travis and two at Hamilton Pool, she said.
Dark attributed the high number that year to the record rainfall that filled Austin-area lakes to their brims, drawing more people to the water.
“When you have a lot of people coming out, there is just a greater chance of accidents,” she said.
While the rainfall this year has been below average, Dark said the summer heat set in sooner than normal.
“It’s gotten hot fast, so we’ve had a lot of people coming out to the lake,” she said.
She encouraged all people operating boats or personal watercraft to refrain from drinking and for others to limit their alcohol consumption on the water.
Her most urgent request: wear a life jacket.
“The depths of Lake Travis are unpredictable. They drop off quickly,” Dark said. “It doesn’t matter if you are a good swimmer. When you get in a situation of distress or panic, a life jacket is all you have in your favor.”
Body found in Lady Bird Lake
A clothed body was found face-down in Lady Bird Lake near Interstate 35, near 1400 Nash Hernandez Sr. Road, about 9:20 a.m. Tuesday, Austin police said.
The Travis County medical examiner’s office was set to perform an autopsy to determine what happened to the person, senior officer Demitri Hobbs said. It was too early to tell if the death was the result of foul play, he said.
Police did not provide details on how the body got there or its gender.
— American-Statesman staff