Man missing in Lake Buchanan after rescuing other swimmers

UPDATE

BUCHANAN DAM — Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials said they have recovered the body of the man who went missing Sept. 24 on Lake Buchanan. Game wardens assisted by the Buchanan Volunteer Fire Department found the body of Dennis Fernandes, 37, of Round Rock at approximately 4:30 p.m. Sept. 26 in the vicinity where he initially disappeared.

CONNIE SWINNEY • STAFF WRITER

BUCHANAN DAM — Crews continued their search Sept. 26 for a man in his 30s who pulled other swimmers to safety a few days earlier on Lake Buchanan before going missing, according to a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department spokesman.

The Austin-area man went under water at about 5 p.m. Sept. 24 in the southeastern area of Lake Buchanan adjacent to Buchanan Dam.

“He was on a family outing and was swimming in the lake,” said Capt. Cody Hatfield, a game warden with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “The boat that they were close to began drifting in the wind.

“He got in the water to assist some other individuals out of the water, got too far away from the boat, and was unable to make it back to the boat,” he added.

Crews are searching in 15-30 feet of water about 300-400 yards off the shoreline.

Divers have faced a challenging task because of the weather and the size of the waterway.

“Having a good location of where the person was last seen, we have to have good eyewitness accounts. And if people aren’t familiar with the lake, it’s hard to describe where they were at,” Hatfield said. “The weather is also a factor with the rain and the wind. It causes crews to fatigue out a little bit more … the cooler temperatures and rough water.”

East Lake Buchanan Volunteer Fire Department firefighters are among the first responders assisting the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department with the search.

Officials recommended that lakegoers pay heed to their surroundings.

“We always recommend, even if you’re a great swimmer, to wear a lifejacket, especially if you’re going to be out in the water,” Hatfield said. “You always got to take into account the wind and your ability as well because even the best swimmers can get into distress.”

connie@thepicayune.com

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