Body of missing boater found at Canyon Lake two days after going under while saving daughter from drowning

Rob Berlingeri disappeared Sunday evening

CANYON LAKE, Texas – The body of a man who was missing on Canyon Lake since Sunday was recovered Tuesday afternoon by Canyon Lake Fire and EMS, Hays County Dive Team and TPWD Dive Team.

Rob Berlingeri went underwater on Sunday evening after falling off his boat with his toddler daughter.

Berlingeri’s sister said the experienced boater was with his family and friends at the lake. He was standing on the back of the boat with his two-year-old daughter when their boat was hit by a wake, and they fell into the water.

Others on the boat didn’t realize they were in the water and struggling except the toddler’s mother.

“The mother of the baby jumped into the water and actually swam to try and help them. And they were passing the baby back and forth, both of them almost drowning to keep the baby alive,” said Sarina Berlingeri, Rob’s sister.

People on another boat rescued Rob’s daughter and her mother, but when they went to get Rob, he was gone.

His family called him a hero for saving his daughter’s life.

“He was an excellent father,” Sarina Berlingeri said about her brother. “He was always with (his daughter), very protective over her. And he was just an awesome person. All of us in our family are very tight and very close. And so this has been a really difficult time for us.”

A Texas Parks and Wildlife spokesperson said game wardens are using side-scan sonar, and a dive team is on standby to search on Tuesday.

“The search effort will continue from sunrise to sunset each day until the individual is located,” said Kirk McDonnell with TPWD on Monday.

Canyon Lake Fire and EMS Chief Robert Mikel asked anyone who isn’t searching for Berlingeri to avoid the area around Canyon Lake Boat Ramp #1 for the safety of the divers.

“I feel like I don’t think he’s alive. But we want his body,” Sarina Berlingeri said on Monday. “We want to give him a proper burial. And at this point, we just want to have him with us so we can make that happen.”

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About the Authors:

Julie Moreno has worked in local television news for more than 25 years. She came to KSAT as a news producer in 2000. After producing thousands of newscasts, she transitioned to the digital team in 2015. She writes on a wide variety of topics from breaking news to trending stories and manages KSAT’s daily digital content strategy.

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.