Officials: Missing man who drowned likely experienced boat issues

LAKE O' THE PINES, TX (KLTV) - A missing boater who was later found drowned may have experienced boat issues while out on the water, a Harrison County Sheriff's Office official says.

Thursday morning, game wardens recovered 70-year old Sammy Lento's body from Lake o' the Pines, near the Highway 155 bridge. The search began when authorities were notified of a drifting boat near the west shore by the Highway 155 bridge.

"I got a call from the game wardens office yesterday around 3 that he was investigating a missing person at Lake o' the Pines. He had located the boat, it was unoccupied," Upshur County Sheriff Larry Webb says.

"We go into rescue mode when a call comes out like this. We're trying to get to them as quickly as possible," Upshur County Game Warden Nathan Skeen says.

The Marshall man hadn't responded to texts and calls from friends. And it was his boat that was found adrift.

Sheriff's deputies, Texas Department of Public Safety troopers and Texas Game Wardens joined the search.

The original plan was to have a dive team come out and multiple people involved in the search, but a game warden cruising the area Thursday, found what they were looking for.

Lento's body was found near the west shore.

"In this case the victim unfortunately did not have a life jacket on when we recovered him," Skeen says.

No foul play is currently suspected.

"We're just making sure we protect the evidence we have now just in case there's a red flag that shows up later," Webb says.

Investigators say the boat's physical condition indicates that it may have been experiencing motor trouble and that Lento possibly was trying to work on it.

"We believe that he was having some motor issues when we got on scene the motor cover was off. Also, there was a flashlight. It was red flags saying he had issues," Skeen says.

The justice of the peace who pronounced Lento dead at the scene has ordered an autopsy.

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