AUSTIN (KXAN) — A body has been recovered from Lake Travis by the Travis County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team, Monday morning.
Recovery teams were searching for a 21-year-old man who went missing from a party barge at 2:19 p.m. Sunday, but officials have not confirmed if the body recovered is the same missing person. They are waiting to receive confirmation from the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office before releasing the swimmer’s identity.
The sheriff’s office’s dive team was launched Monday morning and officials say they found the body within a matter of minutes. The body was discovered in about 50 feet of water. Law enforcement says the body was found very close to where witnesses say the swimmer disappeared.
Officials say the man who went missing on Sunday was in the area of Riviera Marina on the north shore of the lake. A sheriff’s spokesperson said three people swam to nearby cliffs to dive off of them. All were holding flotation safety devices, but were not wearing them, deputies said.
When they began to swim back to the boat, a man lost hold of his flotation device and disappeared under the water.
“One of the individuals lost the flotation device, went under, and never resurfaced,” explained Kristen Dark, senior public information officer for TCSO. “It was not an easy day to be swimming in Lake Travis. It was good that they had the flotation devices. But, the fact that the flotation devices were not attached to them, was another danger.”
Dark says crews worked as hard as they could to locate the missing swimmer on Sunday but were unable to find the man.
“We were on scene within about 12 minutes of the initial call. We did surface searches. We did shoreline searches. STARFlight was up doing an aerial search,” said Dark. “We exhausted every measure. We pulled out all the stops and did as quick and immediate a job as we could to make this a rescue. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to find that swimmer and we had to shift into recovery mode.”
Robert Weiss, with Lake Travis Scuba, was on Lake Travis Sunday in the area where the incident occurred. He says the weather elements may have been a factor in the drowning.
“Sunday was really, really windy out on the lake. A lot of white caps–really strong wind coming in,” said Weiss. “From where that swimmer jumped in the water and then was swimming back to the boat, I believe just from the conditions, that he probably got overwhelmed with the amount of waves and maybe took in some water and panicked.”
Dark told KXAN this incident is another reminder to take precautions to stay safe on the water at Lake Travis.
“Now that the lake is full, we’re going to have a lot more people enjoying it, and so, we encourage everyone who’s out here make sure that you are wearing your flotation device, not just that you have one in the boat. Be wearing it,” Dark said. “Take this lake seriously. It’s a beautiful place, but it’s dangerous. Protect yourselves and your loved ones because this is a very unforgiving body of water.”
This is the second drowning at Lake Travis this year. In 2016, there were seven drownings at the lake.