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Missing swimmer recovered at Lake Somerville, ruled as accidental drowning

Posted at 7:07 PM, Oct 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-24 22:09:17-04

SOMERVILLE, Texas — The Burleson County Sheriff’s Office released new information today about the swimmer reported missing over the weekend at Lake Somerville.

Investigators have ruled the man’s death as an accidental drowning.

“There was a call that came to the sheriff’s office about an individual who went to try and get a jet ski,” said State Game Warden Jayme DeSchaaf. “It had come unanchored and was drifting. That individual swam out, attempted to swim back, didn’t resurface so they called 9-1-1 as a missing potentially drowned person.”

On Monday morning around 9 a.m., the body of John Ross Laughlin of Brazoria County was recovered by the Burleson County Sheriff’s office and Texas Game Wardens.

“We had some high winds,” said DeSchaaf. “We had 15 to 35 mile-an-hour gusts so when that jet ski had drifted off, it was carried significantly. It wasn’t like a slight draft, and then to try and recover the jet ski and then turn around and fight those kind of waves, it’s not easy.”

With high winds on Sunday afternoon, the search ceased after midnight and resumed early Monday.

Investigators used sonar technology to locate Laughlin’s body.

“My partners and I from Washington County, Lee County, DPS had jumped on a boat to help out,” said DeSchaaf. “We went out there and worked between seven and eight hours locating the body under the water on side scan sonar and then marked it off and came back this morning when the wind had died down. We were able to make a quick recovery.”

Texas game warden Jayme DeSchaaf tells KRHD Laughlin’s fiancé made the call to 9-1-1.

“The individual who called was his fiancé and she was out on Snake Island with him which is a little island between Birch and Big Creek Park, there on Lake Somerville,” said DeSchaaf.

DeSchaaf reminds everyone to be careful and cautious when it comes to the water.

“It’s very unique when you’re out there because you’re at the beck and call of mother nature, and you can’t beat her,” said DeSchaaf. “She’s going to do what she wants."

More details can be found on the Burleson County’s Facebook page.