UPDATE: Neither man was wearing a life jacket, authorities believe

Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

EAST TEXAS - On the 41,000-acre Richland Chambers Reservoir southeast of Corsicana, the search continues for 72-year-old Jerry King of Athens and his grandson, 17-year-old Jerrod Rachel.

Four game warden boats as well as a boat from the Henderson County Sheriff's Office and a command center from the Navarro County Sheriff's Office are working tirelessly to find them.

The two men were fishing on the lake March 24 when, sometime between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., they disappeared. Game Warden Capt. Gary Dugan said that searchers have been able to narrow the likely area of the accident by accessing King's GPS logs and following the track of the boat from the day of the accident.

"The wind was blowing pretty hard out of the south-southeast that day, and conditions were rough," Dugan said. "We still don't know exactly what happened, but there is some damage to the bow of the pontoon boat and it appears that a large wave may have caused one of the boaters to go overboard and the other went after him."

Neither man, apparently, was wearing a lifejacket. 

"Life jackets are a big issue," said Game Warden Maj. Alfonso Campos, chief of marine safety enforcement for TPWD. "About 90 percent of the boating fatality victims we recover are not wearing life jackets. Children 12-years-old and younger are required by law to wear life jackets anytime a vessel is not anchored or tied-up. If adults would make that leap and think of a life jacket the same way we think of seatbelts in automobiles, we'd have a lot fewer fatalities."

Dugan, who is leading the Richland-Chambers search, said three of the game warden boats are equipped with side-scan sonar and the search team has requested divers to assist in locating the victims of the accident.

Severe weather hampered search efforts Wednesday.