Body recovered from O'Neill Forebay, family ID's as missing father

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It was a quiet and somber afternoon at the O'Neill Forebay in Merced County as the dive team searched for a man who went missing in the water on Father's Day.

Family members say the man is Ricardo Martinez.

"They just happened to go out on a raft and an accident happened," said Robert Jurado.

A Captain with the California State Parks said the family was outside of the designated swimming area when one of the kids ended up in the water, when the dad jumped in without a life jacket to help.

"One of our patrol boats was in the area and was on scene in roughly less than a minute and attempted to locate (him)," said Capt. Gerald Heberling. "Our lifeguards arrived shortly after to started a dive line to located the victim but were unsuccessful."

The Merced County Sheriff's Office Dive team was called out. They combed through the water until dusk and returned Monday morning to continue their search.

Family watched, waiting as the dive team boated back and forth in the area Martinez went missing.

"It's not easy. I know they are heartbroken, we are heartbroken," said Jurado, an uncle. He drove down to the lake not only to support the family, but to bring his boat to see if he could help.

"I'm pretty familiar with this area because I fish it a lot," he said.

He wasn't allowed to launch his boat as the sheriff's teams were searching.

On Monday afternoon the dive team found a body in the water and family members say it was Martinez. They say he was a great father and always looking out for everyone.

"He definitely is a family man.... He is a very hard worker," Jurado said. "I see him and family gatherings. He's very supportive of his kids."

Officials at the forebay are urging people to wear life jackets. They have a free life jacket program for infants, kids and adults.

Friends have set up a GoFundMe account to help Martinez's family.
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