Divers comb Canyon Lake for decade-old drowning victim

Volunteer divers brave terrain, extreme depth of Canyon Lake

CANYON LAKE, Texas - Canyon Lake, in Comal County, draws in thousands of visitors each year. Known for its beauty, the lake also holds an element of danger. 


Canyon Lake is notoriously deep and has claimed its share of drowning victims through the years. Not all of those victims have been found. 

With that in mind, the San Marcos Area Recovery team, who often performs recoveries on Canyon Lake, decided to brave its depths in search of a victim who disappeared 11 years ago.

SMART divers Matt Simkin and Don White anchored down over the spot where the swimmer was last seen over a decade ago. Simkin said that spot is as much as 90 feet deep.

"He was up from the country of Chile visiting family and he swam out to help one of his family members,” explained White.

The victim’s body never surfaced, likely because of what lies below.

"If anybody's been to the River Walk in downtown San Antonio with those huge cypress trees, that’s the same thing that’s down there,” said White.

Trees, some 50 feet tall, dot Canyon Lake’s underwater landscape. The trees can prevent a body from surfacing.

"We're hoping by now (that) he may have settled down below the trees and we'll be able to get underneath the tree line in the old Guadalupe river bed,” said Simkin.

"Hopefully we can find closure for the family – that’s the biggest thing,” added White.

With that, the search began. 

Despite being anchored near the shoreline, the divers dove down more than 100 feet into the Guadalupe River bed. 

Finding closure is first and foremost. However, the mission will be two-fold.

"By us getting the experience and training and coming out here and doing these types of dives, we're familiar with the areas when and if we have to do a recovery at those places,” said SMART Chief Jason Hedrick.

With visibility reduced to just one foot in front of them, Simkin and White can only spend half an hour to search for what would now be remains. Should they stay down longer, decompression would be needed.

Thirty minutes later, the two divers surfaced empty handed.

"You always want to find what you’re looking for,” said a disappointed Simkin. “At the same time we're continuously learning the bottom of the lake and the terrain.”

Simkin and White said the knowledge gained from the dive may prevent Canyon Lake from claiming another body in the future.


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