The body of a missing boater was recovered this morning from Lake Red Rock in south-central Iowa. Twenty-five-year-old Derek Long of Pella disappeared on Sunday afternoon while swimming off a pontoon boat.
Marion County Sheriff Ron Goemaat says Long dove into the lake to retrieve his 6-year-old stepson who had drifted a good distance away from the boat. “I think he just ran out of strength,” Goemaat said.
“He was trying to catch up with the boat, with the little boy…but the wind was blowing and it kept blowing the boat farther away. He just basically ran out of energy and slipped below the surface.”
The boy, who was wearing a life jacket, was eventually rescued. Several family members were on the pontoon boat, but we’re unable to direct the boat to Long and the child. “It was a rental boat and I believe it was the first time they’d been on that boat,” Goemaat said. “So, it was a mix of just panic and trying to start a boat they were fairly unfamiliar with.”
The family called 911 shortly after Long went under and a D.N.R. officer responded to the scene. “The D.N.R. officer actually plucked the six-year-old out of the water and looked for a while for the victim, but to no avail,” Goemaat said.
Crews from several agencies and dozens of volunteers searched for Long both Monday and Tuesday. His body was discovered early this morning by a woman who was walking her dog around Lake Red Rock.
Sheriff Goemaat believes it’s the first drowning at Lake Red Rock since 2005. The lake, located 40 miles southeast of Des Moines is the largest body of water in Iowa.