Search for missing woman, son ends with recovery on Lake Livingston

The San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office received a 9-1-1 call on Tuesday, July 3, around 9 p.m., regarding a man rescued from the water in Lake Livingston by a Good Samaritan with a boat. The resident advised that they could hear the man yelling for help, so they boarded their own boat and found him, according to a report from the office of San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Caper.

“The rescued man, Ricardo Lopez, 37, of South Houston, advised that he and his girlfriend, Patricia Floriano, 34, of Jacinto City, and her 14-year-old son, went out on his boat to go fishing around 1 p.m.,” the statement from Caper reads.

Sheriff Greg Caper

After enjoying a day on the lake, Lopez said he observed severe weather approaching rapidly between 6 and 7 p.m. Lopez turned his boat toward the marina and started heading for shore but the waves crashed over the bow of his boat, causing it to “swamp” and roll over. The three occupants jumped from the capsized boat.

“All were wearing life vests and even had several other life vests tied together to use as an additional flotation device. Lopez stayed with Floriano and her son for about 30 minutes, then decided to swim toward the western shoreline for help,” the statement continues. “He stated it got dark on him but he continued to swim toward the lights. He said he heard music and saw some people on a dock. He began yelling to them for help and they boarded their boat and rescued him.”

Lopez shared with them that his girlfriend and her son were still on the water, waiting to be rescued. The San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office, Cape Royale and Camilla VFDs, Texas Highway Patrol, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Pct. 2 Constable Roy Pippin, Haz Mat Special Services of La Porte, and the U.S. Coast Guard began searching for the pair.

At about 2 a.m., the Coast Guard helicopter spotted them floating in the lake several miles away from where their ordeal had begun. Game wardens picked up the pair on the water and delivered them to the marina where EMS checked them out.

“Even after floating in the lake for 6-7 hours, all were found in good shape and were released to head home. The boat has not been located,” the statement continued.

Lake Livingston, formed by the Trinity River, is the second largest man-made lake in the state, with over 30 miles of shoreline in San Jacinto County.

Caper said the incident proves the importance of life jackets.

“Having fun on the lake can be a memorable experience. However, make it a pleasant experience by keeping a close watch on weather and always wear your life vest. Life vests can save your life as was so evident in tonight’s event,” the sheriff said.

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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