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Body of high school senior found

Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

AUSTIN, TX - The body of 17-year-old Jerrod Rachel has been recovered from the Richland Chambers Reservoir.

After a week-long search of waters near the U.S. Highway 287 bridge on Richland Chambers Reservoir, Texas game wardens and officers from the Tarrant Regional Water District found his body at 8:50 Wednesday morning.

Rachel, a senior at Cross Roads High School, in Malakoff, Texas, and his grandfather, Jerry King, 72, of Athens, were reported missing March 24. Divers from the Texas Department of Public Safety recovered King's body March 27.

King's pontoon boat was found lodged in standing timber near Hickey Island north of the U.S. Hwy 287 bridge on the 41,000-acre lake in Navarro County.

A fisherman at Oak Cove Marina reported seeing King's pontoon boat drift past the afternoon of March 24 but initially thought the occupants were just out of sight. The boat's global positioning system indicated that it began drifting approximately one-half mile south of the bridge. Game wardens reconstructed the boat's track across the lake using the GPS and have focused search efforts along a broad swath of water along that path.

Texas game wardens, the Tarrant Regional Water District, the Henderson County Sheriff's Office, the Navarro County Sheriff's Office and the Texas Department of Public Safety all participated in the search.

Game wardens today continue searching Lake Lavon, near Dallas, for 18-year-old Michael Simmons of Freeville, N.Y., and Lake Grapevine for Trevor Dennis Rotzoll, 26, of Grapevine. Simmons has been missing since his paddleboat capsized in high winds Tuesday, and Rotzoll has been missing since Saturday.

Game Warden Capt. Gary Dugan has been leading the Richland Chambers search.

"Obviously, we're relieved that we've found Jerrod and his family can start to get some closure on this," Dugan said. "It's a real tragedy. Here we have a case of a grandfather and grandson going fishing - one of the most wholesome family activities I can think of - and, somewhere along the way and probably in a matter of seconds, it all went wrong."

Dugan said neither man was wearing a life jacket. Approximately 90 percent of boating fatality victims in Texas do not have life jackets on when recovered, and 59 of the 61 boating fatalities in 2008 involved only one vessel.

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