|Trinity Standard - Local News
Copyright 2011 - Polk County Publishing Company
Search underway for missing angler
Trinity Standard -
TRINITY – An air and water search of Lake Livingston entered its fifth day Tuesday, March 29, after a Louisiana fisherman was reported missing near the Chalk Bluff area. Clarence Roy Verrett, 66, of Iowa, La., was reported missing at about 9:40 a.m. Friday, March 25, when another fisherman noticed his boat turning in circles on the lake. According to Pct. 1 Constable Woody Wallace, Verrett and his family were camping at Port Adventure off FM 356 as part of a family holiday. “The man who reported him missing was fishing off of the 356 causeway and had noticed Mr. Verrett in his boat during the previous mornings,” Wallace said. Verrett had taken his flat-bottomed boat onto the lake to check trotlines each morning and was believed to have been doing that when he disappeared. “The man saw him out in his boat and then turned away. About five minutes later, her noticed that the boat appeared to be turning in circles. “He was a good distance away, so at first 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 at the controls,” Wallace said. The fisherman then called the Trinity Volunteer Fire Department to report a “man overboard.” TVFD firefighters responded with the department’s rescue boat and when they arrived at the scene, the found Verrett’s boat turning circles at a high rate of speed. Wallace, who accompanied the firefighters during the initial search, said they managed to hit the boat’s “kill switch” by tossing a rope at the motor. The fishing boat was then towed back to Port Adventure and additional resources were called in to search for Verrett. Among those resources was a civilian airplane owned by Dallas and Scott Ehni, who reside near the scene of the search. Wallace said they took their small plane up Friday morning in hopes of spotting Verrett in the water, possibly clinging to a tree stump in the nearby “Jungle” area of Lake Livingston. “They also flew along the nearby shore line to see if he had managed to swim to shore,” Wallace said. Other resources that joined the search included Texas Parks and Wildlife game wardens. Eventually game wardens from Trinity, Polk, San Jacinto, Montgomery and Angelina counties were on the lake searching for the missing fisherman. The prime area of search was located 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, a sonar-equipped boat and dive team from the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Department arrived to the scene from Louisiana to assist. Wallace said the missing fisherman’s brother is a lieutenant in that Lake Charles-based department. He also was acquainted with a number of the dive team members and they all volunteered their time to come to Lake Livingston to help with the search. On Monday, two specially trained cadaver dogs also were brought to the scene at the request of Verrett’s family. The dogs are able to detect the scent of gases released by a submerged body. Wallace said that during their search Monday, the dogs “hit” on an area. In addition, the sonar on the Calcasieu Parrish boat also spotted a “possible target” in another location. “We’re going to be looking at both of those areas and will possibly be sending down the divers either today or tomorrow,” Wallace said Monday afternoon. Also on Monday afternoon, a Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter was brought to the scene and flew a grid pattern low over the lake. It was 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 one or more members of the Pct. 1 Constable’s office have been on site basically from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day of the search and a number of local businesses have stepped forward to offer their support. Trinity’s Sonic Drive-In, KC’s I Love This Bar and Grill and the Lovelady Pizza Pro Restaurant provided the searchers with lunch on various days. In addition, Becky Cole, wife of Deputy Constable Mark Cole, has sent food and members of the Verrett family have prepared Cajun meals for the volunteers.