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Missing fisherman found off San Jacinto County pier
Trinity Standard -
COLDSPRING — The body of a fisherman missing since March 25 was found Thursday, March 31, floating 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, the body of Clarence “Junior” Verrett, 66, of Iowa, La. was found by a homeowner who had walked to his pier. Verrett is believed to have been checking trotlines near Chalk Bluff in the Trinity County portion of the lake when he apparently fell overboard at about 9:40 a.m. on Friday, March 25. Another fisherman noticed his boat turning in circles and summoned officials. The body was discovered about a mile south of where Verrett was reported missing on the opposite side of the lake. After Magee held an inquest, he sent the body to the medical examiner for an autopsy. Verrett and his family were reportedly at Port Adventure where they were preparing to help another family member move to Colorado. “The man who reported him missing was fishing off the FM 356 causeway and had noticed Mr. Verrett in his boat during the previous morning,” Trinity County Pct. 1 Constable Woody Wallace said. “The man saw him out in his boat and then turned away. About five minutes later, he 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 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. The fisherman called Trinity Volunteer Fire Department to report a “man overboard.” TVFD firefighters responded with the department’s rescue boat and 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 boat was then towed by to Port Adventure and additional 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 shortly after Verrett was reported missing, hoping to spot him 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 trotlines. 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 Charles-based 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 is 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.