UPDATED | September 05, 2016 2:15 PM
GRAND PRAIRIE (CBSDFW.COM) – Crews were back out at Joe Pool Lake on Monday morning to continue looking for a missing swimmer, and they located his body in the afternoon. The 57-year-old man, identified by officials as Walter Harrison of Arlington, went under after jumping into the water on Sunday afternoon.
Harrison was swimming near a pontoon boat at around 3:45 p.m. on Sunday when, according to family members, he began to scream in distress. Nobody could reach him in time. Game wardens stated that the Harrison was not wearing a life jacket.
“People think they can just jump in and cool off, but this happens every year,” said Assistant Chief Bill Murphy with the Grand Prairie Fire Department.
Police and fire boats spent hours on Sunday searching for the missing man, and even sent divers into the water. But there was no sign of his body. Authorities on Monday used GPS data from the family’s cell phones to narrow down the search area. After a positive sonar image, divers were able to recover Harrison’s body.
“We don’t know what happens to these people,” Murphy stated. “A lot of times we’re told they’re strong swimmers, so we don’t know what happens, whether they cramp up, what happens.”
Game warden Capt. Tony Norton said that, in his experience, when someone drowns in a lake, they usually sink straight to the bottom and stay there. “You can be seen if you go to the bottom of your swimming pool,” Norton explained on Monday. “Here, if you go under, they’re not going to be able to find you if somebody’s near you, unless we get lucky real quick.”
This latest incident has officials issuing a warning to anyone who plans to be on the lake for Labor Day — do not risk your life, wear a life jacket at all times. “Jump in with your life jacket on to cool off,” Murphy continued. “You just never know.”
“Leave your pride at home,” added Norton. “Do the smart thing and wear your life jacket.”
This is the second drowning at Joe Pool Lake this year.