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Updated: Deputies identify body found in lake

TCSO: Man’s death investigated as accident

By Melanie Ruberti

mruberti@civitasmedia.com

From left, Troup County Sheriff James Woodruff, a Department of Natural Resources officer, Coroner Jeff Cook and sheriff’s Sgt. Stewart Smith on Wednesday afternoon look over the boat that belonged to the missing William Edward Jones, 70, of Griffin, who was later discovered to have drowned overnight a short distance away from his boat.

http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2016/03/web1_Missing1-2.jpgFrom left, Troup County Sheriff James Woodruff, a Department of Natural Resources officer, Coroner Jeff Cook and sheriff’s Sgt. Stewart Smith on Wednesday afternoon look over the boat that belonged to the missing William Edward Jones, 70, of Griffin, who was later discovered to have drowned overnight a short distance away from his boat.

Melanie Ruberti | Daily News

Divers with the Troup County Sheriff’s Office suit up and head out into West Point Lake to recover the body of William Edward Jones, 70. According to TCSO, the man’s body was discovered in the water by sonar equipment used on the agency’s many vessels.

http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2016/03/web1_Missing2-2.jpgDivers with the Troup County Sheriff’s Office suit up and head out into West Point Lake to recover the body of William Edward Jones, 70. According to TCSO, the man’s body was discovered in the water by sonar equipment used on the agency’s many vessels.

Melanie Ruberti | Daily News

TCSO divers recovered the body of William Edward Jones, 70, of Griffin, about 4:30 Wednesday afternoon. The elderly man was reported missing that morning.

http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2016/03/web1_Missing4-2.jpgTCSO divers recovered the body of William Edward Jones, 70, of Griffin, about 4:30 Wednesday afternoon. The elderly man was reported missing that morning.

Melanie Ruberti | Daily News

LaGRANGE — Officials with the Troup County Sheriff’s Office have identified a man whose body was pulled from West Point Lake late Wednesday afternoon.

Investigators said divers with the sheriff’s office found William Edward Jones, 70, of Griffin, in the water near White Water Access boat ramp off Neely Road.

According to Sgt. Stewart Smith, public information officer with the Troup County Sheriff’s Office, the man’s body was found in a cove by sonar equipment just a short distance away from where his boat was found Wednesday morning.

The Georgia State Patrol also brought in a helicopter to try and locate the man by air.

Troup County Sheriff James Woodruff said Jones was last seen about 6 p.m. Tuesday sitting in his truck by a group of fisherman.

The man reportedly told the group he was going to stay and fish overnight, Woodruff stated.

The same fishermen returned just after 8 a.m. Wednesday and discovered the man’s fishing boat anchored in the middle of a cove with fishing lines in the water and the motor running, but no sign of him, said Woodruff.

The 70 year old’s truck was also still parked in the lot.

Woodruff said deputies, including the dive team, quickly responded to the White Water Access ramp and searched the murky waters of West Point Lake.

“The divers said they could hardly see in front of their faces,” Woodruff said. “The dive out here is more of a ‘dive and feel’ then a ‘dive and see’ operation.”

Sheriff’s officials quickly determined Jones may have possibly fallen overboard and may have drowned. They said there were no signs anyone made it to the shoreline, which was 50 yards from the boat.

Jones’ family members and friends gathered in the parking lot of the access ramp to watch the recovery effort. They were quickly ushered into the Troup County Sheriff’s Office mobile crime scene unit and notified of his death. TCSO also had a chaplain on site to help console the family.

Smith said Jones’ death is being investigated as an accident and an autopsy will be performed later this week to determine the exact cause of death.

The search and recovery operation was a joint investigation between the Troup County Sheriff’s Office, the Department of Natural Resources and the Army Corp of Engineers.

Reporter Tyler H. Jones contributed to this report.

Melanie Ruberti is a reporter with LaGrange Daily News. She may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2156.