The body of Jacinto Ortiz, 51 of Willis was recovered at 4:55p.m. Sunday, a little over 24 hours after he drowned in the Trinity River under SH 105 east of Cleveland. Ortiz was with his family Saturday when he walked out into the river under the bridge where a group of about twenty-five family members were enjoying the day on the beach.
Spears,had met him earlier in the day and given Ortiz some fish he had caught. Ortiz in return brought over several Pepsi’s. Spears said he say him walking out then start yelling for help. Spears and a 15-year-old attempted to rescue him but the current was to strong. Spears said the current on the surface was nothing compared with where he was walking under the surface. He got within five feet of Ortiz but was unable to help him. The teen almost went down also but was able to get out.
Liberty County Sheriff’s Office kept the search going until 9 p.m. Saturday and then called it until 6am Sunday due to the dangers in the river after dark.
Sunday morning Captain Rex Evan’s with the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office organized a massive search made up of volunteers from Equusearch, Cypress Lakes, Tarkington, Hardin and Cleveland Fire Departments. Montgomery County Precinct 1 and Precinct 4 Dive Teams also assisted.
Equusearch brought a side scan sonar with there boat which would help spot something in the murky waters. Several times during the day divers were sent down in the 95 plus degree heat to check on items located by sonar. Most turned out to be car parts, refrigerators and other large items.
Then just before 5 p.m. they believe a diver bumped the body jarring it loose from the bottom.