Missing man's body recovered from lake at Potato Creek

NORTH LIBERTY, Ind. -- Indiana Conservation Officers recovered the body of the Elkhart man who disappeared Sunday evening at Potato Creek State Park.

Jose Eduardo Garcia Garcia, 35, was on a paddle boat with one other friend Sunday evening. Originally officials said storms rolled in causing him to fall into the water. Now, they say the friends were taking turns swimming in the lake. The life vests issued by the boat rental were not utilized.

Several agencies scanned the water until it was too dark Sunday evening. Indiana Conservation Officers continued the search at 6 a.m. Monday. They used sonar technology to comb the bottom of the water.

Garcia's body was located around 3 p.m. Monday, but the sonar technology used was not what ultimately found the body.

Sargent Ashlee Jackson was confident in the abilities of the crews on the scene. “They’ve gone through classes and training to operate that side scan sonar. Divers are some of the most capable divers in the state,” he said.

The main technology used for the search was a side scan sonar unit that collects images of abnormalities at the bottom of the lake in a grid like pattern. The points of interest were marked. “There are several things down there like tree stumps, weeds that we have to rule out,” said Jackson.

The points that can’t be ruled out by looking at the screen are where divers were sent down. Jackson explained that Jose Eduardo Garcia Garcia wasn’t found from a site that the officials marked with the sonar. He was found just 20 yards outside the original search area. “He was toward the surface of the water so we were actually able to see him from the boat,” Jackson said.

Before he was found, officials wanted to end the search as quickly as possible. “For the family’s sake for the friends’ sake. And for everybody out here that’s searching. We want to bring this to an end,” Jackson explained.

An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday at 10 a.m. in Fort Wayne.

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