Texas Parks and Wildlife Department dive teams were still searching Monday evening for the body of a 38-year-old Collin County man who went missing on Lewisville Lake on Sunday night.
Officials identified the missing man as Michael Quach of Melissa. They said he jumped out of a boat to help another family member panicking in the water. He wasn’t wearing a life jacket and never made it back to the boat. Windy weather has made the search difficult, officials said.
“The wind was out of the south pretty strong, and I don’t know if the boat got away from him but he couldn’t make it back,” said Game Warden Daron Blackerby.
Blackerby said crews from The Colony and Lewisville fire departments assisted state personnel in the search. Four people already had drowned in Lewisville Lake this year.
The search began after 5 p.m. Sunday and was halted after darkness fell. Searchers returned at about 7 a.m. Monday. They stopped for a few hours during the hottest part of the day and went back out after 4 p.m., Blackerby said. The Colony police officers walked the shoreline around Hidden Cove, where the family was boating.
“I was taking my husband out and my kids out for Father’s Day because he loves the water,” Brianna Mann, Quach’s wife, told Fort Worth’s KXAS-TV (Channel 5) early Monday.
Quach, whom family members described as a strong swimmer, was trying to assist his nephew when the trouble began. The nephew, who was wearing a life vest, had gone into the water to cool off but began panicking.
Quach jumped out of the boat to help him. He managed to push his nephew back into the boat, then sank into the water, according to his wife.
“I’m over there throwing the ropes at him, but it kept drifting and drifting,” Mann said. “And I don’t know, I’m trying to start the boat to go back for them, and then I just saw him go down and he never came back up.”
Mann and other family members wanted to get boats of their own to continue the search, but Blackerby and other first responders advised against it because of their inexperience. He said he understood the desire to help but said untrained, freelance searchers could become another safety concern.
Quach’s exhausted family members and friends gathered at a campsite at Hidden Cove Park near Little Elm. They talked amongst themselves, checked for updates on the search and tried to nap on park benches where they had waited for the search to yield results since Sunday evening.
Capt. Cliff Swofford, a state game warden, said winds contributed 2 1/2- to 3-foot swells that made the search difficult. Water depth was an estimated 30 feet.
Sonar equipment that dive teams usually use was not able to function well in those conditions. Without the sonar, officials said, they would have been sending divers to look for a needle in a haystack.
“We’re doing the best we can do,” Swofford said.
Officials said the search was suspended at dark Monday and would resume this morning.
KXAS-TV contributed to this report.
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.