NEWTON COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) – The search continued Monday evening for a drowning victim in Newton County. Crews are searching for the body of Saul Lopez, who never resurfaced after having to swim because of a flat raft Saturday evening.
Family members of Lopez looked on as two boats, one belonging to the Department of Natural Resources and one to the Kentland Fire Department, slowly searched JC Murphy Lake. Crews were working with a sonar unit to conduct the search for the 22-year-old Monday.
“It just returns an image from beneath the surface and they have to differentiate whatever they’re looking at from its surroundings. It can be a very effective piece of equipment in the right situation,” said Conservation Officer Bryce Klimek.
Investigators said Lopez and a friend were floating on a raft Saturday when the raft began to lose air from a hole. They tried rowing back to shore with the two oars, but were unsuccessful. Lopez jumped into the water to try and push the boat back into shore. He swam for a short time near the raft, but quickly went under and never resurfaced.
Even two days later, crews are only able to conduct a surface search because of murky waters.
“I’d say that the visibility is maybe up to a foot, but not much further beyond that,” said Klimek. “There is vegetation coming from the bottom all the way almost to the surface.”
Klimek said it’s hard to tell when Lopez’s body might surface.
“Some people would tell you that there a scientific equation based on the temperature of the water, and the size of the individual and whether or not they’ve consumed alcohol and how much of it they may have consumed,” said Klimek. “In my experience, I have found that each one of these situations is different, and it’s very difficult to determine how long it’s going to take for a body to surface.”
Klimek said it has not been determined if alcohol was a factor in the drowning.
Conservation officers said they responded for another possible water rescue Monday evening for a Veedersburg man.
They were called about a submerged victim at Raccoon Lake in Parke County around 5 p.m. Minutes after arriving on scene, divers recovered a 29-year-old man.
EMTs were trying to resuscitate the victim while he was being transported to St. Vincent Clay Hospital, but conservation officers said the man has died.
His name will not be released until his family has been notified.
Drugs and alcohol are both suspected to be factors in the incident.