A man presumed drowned in Lake Elsinore has been identified by a family member, but his body is still missing.
Gammy Nunez, 50, of Rancho Cucamonga, was last seen Sunday around 1:45 p.m. He was out fishing on his small boat with his wife, Julia, and their two grown sons, Jeremy and Marc.
The boat began taking on water near the north end of the lake and capsized, according to Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy Joshua Morales. A good Samaritan boater rescued the woman and the sons; all three are safe, the deputy said Sunday, but the father was not found.
Authorities began rescue efforts minutes after the incident but by about 4 p.m. that afternoon they shifted to recovery mode and later said the man was presumed drowned.
As of 6 p.m. Tuesday, authorities have still been unable to find the body.
Despite the dire circumstances, Johanne Villavicencio, the missing man’s niece, said she is still optimistic.
“We're not losing our hope that he will be found alive and safe. He is a very strong man and he can survive,” she said via email from the Philippines. “He is a good man, a very good man. He is a very loving, caring, happy person.”
Villavicencio said her uncle was also a good swimmer who owned a pool and spa business.
According to an article from The Desert Sun that published just 10 days ago, the missing man was an avid fisherman. Earlier this month, a Desert Sun reporter caught up with him as he fished for tilapia at the Salton Sea.
Search and recovery efforts for the missing man will resume Wednesday at 6 a.m., Deputy Morales said.
Tomorrow morning “we will throw everything we have it. It will be all hands on deck,” he explained, noting that there will be additional divers in the water and an extensive check of the shorelines.
He said recovery efforts continue to be concentrated at the lake’s north end, but explained that on Wednesday the search will be broadened.
“We don’t believe the current could have carried his body that far, but we want to be sure,” Deputy Morales said.
The deputy said the family was at the search scene on Tuesday and did talk with news media.
Marc Nunez, the younger of the two sons, wrote on his Faceback page Sunday morning, “Sunblock. Check. Boat shoes. Check. Ridiculous American Apparel outfit I thought I'd never wear unless I were on a boat. Check.”
When asked by a Facebook friend where he was going, Marc responded, “Lake Elsinore with the family on my dad's fishing boat. :)”