Searcher finds body of 57-year-old Jasper man who went missing on Sam Rayburn

Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff
Pictured are William Harding and two of his grandchildren. (Source: Lindsay Harding)
Pictured are William Harding and two of his grandchildren. (Source: Lindsay Harding)

ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - During a search of the Sam Rayburn Reservoir Tuesday morning, a ranger with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers found the body of the 57-year-old Jasper man, who went missing over the weekend.

The man has been identified as William Harding.

Capt. Tom Jenkins with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said that helicopters were brought Tuesday morning to assist with the search. A representative of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was searching the lake on a jet ski, when he found Harding's body near Coleman's Cove, in San Augustine County at about 11 a.m.

Jenkins also said that a life jacket was not found on Harding's body or in the water nearby.

David Hadnot has frequented Lake Sam Rayburn for over 30 years.

"What I stress to everybody is to bring your life preserver," said Hadnot. "That's very, very critical. It is dangerous out there. There's a lot of obstacles. When you get out there on the water, and you're going seventy miles an hour. And, you hit something on the lake that you're not aware of, stumps and all that kind of stuff."

Multiple signs around the shore warn fishermen of the lake's constantly changing water level. Hadnot said that this causes even more problems.

"When the water gets up high like this, a lot of things start floating around," said Hadnot. "A lot of underbrush, a lot of trees in the waters."

Also, William Harding often went out on solo boat trips, according to Jenkins.

The search teams suspended their search temporarily Monday night. Monday's search efforts included areas near the Angelina-Jasper county line.

The man's empty boat was found at Smith Cove in Angelina County at about 10 a.m. Sunday morning, Jenkins said. Later, a truck and trailer were found at the public boat ramp in Jasper County, which is off Recreational Road 225.

A pilot flew over the lake Monday, but nothing was found as a result of the aerial search.

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