|San Jacinto News-Times - Local News
Copyright 2011 - Polk County Publishing Company
Body of missing Louisiana angler found
San Jacinto News- Times
COLDSPRING – The body of a fi sherman missing since March 25 was found Thursday fl oating against the dock at a residence off Emerald Way in northern San Jacinto County, according to San Jacinto County Pct. 4 Justice of the Peace Greg Magee. Clarence Verrett, 66, of Iowa, Louisiana had been checking trot lines near Chalk Bluff in the Trinity County portion of the lake at about 9:40 a.m. Friday, March 25, when he fell in the water. Another fi sherman noticed his boat turning in circles and summoned offi cials. The San Jacinto County homeowner who discovered Verrett’s body walked to his pier and saw the victim fl oating Thursday. After Magee held an inquest, he sent the body to the medical examiner for an autopsy. Trinity County Pct. 1 Constable Woody Wallace reported that Verrett and his family were at Port Adventure off FM 356 where they were preparing to help a family member move to Colorado. “The man who reported him missing was fi shing off the FM 356 causeway and had noticed Verrett is his boat during the previous morning,” Wallace said. “The man saw him out in his boat and then turned away. About fi ve minutes later, he noticed that the boat appeared to be turning in circles. He was a good distance away, so at fi rst he didn’t think anything was wrong, but when he saw the boat continue to turn in circles, he realized that there was no one oat the controls,” Wallace said. The fi sherman called Trinity Volunteer Fire Department to report a “man overboard.” TVFD fi refi ghters responded with the department’s rescue boat and found Verrett’s boat turning circles at a high rate of speed. Wallace, who accompanied the fi refi ghters during the initial search, said they managed to hit the boat’s kill switch by tossing a rope at the motor. The boat was then towed by to Port Adventure and addial resources were called in to search for Verrett. Dallas and Scott Ehni, who live near the scene of the search, went up in their small airplane Friday morning, hoping to spot Verrett in the water, possibly clinging to a tree stump in the nearby “jungle” area of Lake Livingston. “They also flew along the nearby shoreline to see if he had managed to swim to shore,” Wallace said. Other searchers included Texas Parks and Wildlife game wardens from Trinity, Polk, San Jacinto, Montgomery and Angelina counties. The prime search area was near Chalk Bluff in an area of the lake located between the Trinity River channel and the Jungle area. Searchers reported that area is filled with submerged tree stumps and trot lines. On Sunday, March 27, a sonar- equipped boat and dive team from the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Department arrived from Louisiana to assist. The victim’s brother is a lieutenant in that Lake Charlesbased department. The fisherman also was acquainted with a number of the dive team members and they all volunteered their time to come to Lake Livingston and help with the search. On Monday, March 28, two specially trained cadaver dogs joined what had essentially become a recovery effort at the family’s request. The dogs are able to detect the scent of gases released by a submerged body. Wallace said the dogs “hit” on an area during their search Monday. In addition, the sonar on the Calcasieu Parish boat spotted a possible target in another location. A Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter flew a grid pattern low over the lake on Monday afternoon as well. Searchers hoped that the down wash of air from the helicopter blades would stir up the lake water and dislodge the missing fisherman if he was hung up on an underwater trotline or tree stump. A boat team from TVFD, game wardens and members of the Trinity County Pct. 1 Constable’s office were on site from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day of the search. Several lake area businesses stepped forward with food for members of the search team. Members of the Verrett family also served Cajun meals for volunteers. The recovery brings mixed emotions for the family, according to Wallace. “It’s pretty tough. The family is understandably frustrated because they want closure, but they’re grateful this is over with and appreciate everyone’s support,” Wallace said.