On June 9, Juan Carlos Fuentes and his brother, Irving, drowned at Lost Creek Lake.
The brothers were boating with family members when one fell off a tube and began to struggle. The other brother went in to help, but they both ended up in trouble. Neither man was wearing a life jacket.
Irving was pronounced dead after being taken from the water immediately after the incident. The body of Juan Carlos was not found.
Ever since the drownings, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office said they were searching 5 to 6 days a week. However, they were only able to search on the surface of the water.
“After the incident, we contacted a company out of Idaho. It’s actually a retired couple who are experts in side-scan sonar. And this is how they spend their summers, going out and recovering loved ones,” said Sgt. Shawn Richards, Jackson Co. Search & Rescue.
Sgt. Richards said the couple, Gene and Cindy Ralston, would bring in a boat that makes a side-scan image of the bottom of the lake until they locate the body.
On August 20, the Ralstons found something about 135 feet below the surface of the lake.
Two days later, a JCSO search and rescue dive team recovered the body of Juan Carlos Fuentes as the location identified by the Ralstons.
“We’re very thankful we finally have some resolution and we’re able to get him back to his family,” Sgt. Richards said, “so they can truly start their healing process.”
“You feel it inside,” Gene Ralston said. “You know, it’s kind of an up-welling sensation, I guess you would call it, that wow… you finally found them.”
Deputies said, “The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the Search and Rescue personnel as well as Gene and Cindy Ralston for their help in allowing the Fuentes family to move forward in their grieving process.”