Swimmer goes under in choppy Lake Pontchartrain waters

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wwltv.com

Posted on June 30, 2013 at 10:07 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 1 at 12:28 PM

Jaclyn Kelley / Eyewitness News
Email: jkelley@wwltv.com | Twitter: @jkelleyWWL

NEW ORLEANS -- What was supposed to be a fun family outing on Lake Pontchartrain suddenly took a turn for the worst for one Kenner family Sunday.

A 50-year-old man is still missing after he went for a swim just before 4 p.m., but never resurfaced after going under.

Family members clung to each other and watched helplessly as New Orleans Police and the U.S. Coast Guard searched the shoreline for their loved one near the area where the Bayou St. John connects with the lake.

"We just want them to find him and then we will know for sure, for there to be closure," said Julie Dominguez a close family friend.

Dominguez says the whole family was swimming together when the water suddenly became very choppy and they decided to get out. The family says everyone made it back on shore except 50-year-old Telesford Chavez-Lopez.

"He was out there, the current got really hard and took him under," said Dominguez.

The family watched as the father of four struggled to swim back in. They even attempted to save him, but it was too late.

"The next thing I know he lifted up his arms and basically was trying to come up, he went down, came back up again, then back under the water and that was the last time we saw him," said Dominguez.

The family immediately called 911. For nearly four hours, the U.S. Coast Guard searched the water, both from above and by the boat. NOPD called in its dive and rescue team to help in the search, but the rough water conditions were too dangerous for divers to go in. A short time later, officials called off the search for the night.

It was difficult news for friends and family who had gathered along the water's edge hoping for a better outcome. "It is tough," said Dominguez. "There are no words to describe how it feels to lose somebody."

The NOPD says they will resume the search for Lopez Monday morning at 8 a.m.

 

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