A body was found at Lake Travis Friday morning. The Travis County Sheriff's Office says the body was a female and found in the area where Rachel Scott was last seen in May.
The body was found between Starnes Island and the village of Volente. It was 117 feet down; equivalent to a 10 story building, according to Kristen Dark with the Travis County Sheriffs Office.
“This is the greatest depth at which we have ever recovered someone on Lake Travis is also the longest length of time between when a person went missing and when we were able to recover someone,” said Dark.
To reach that extreme depth a special dive team from the Austin Police Department was brought in. The difficult conditions they faced were described by local diver Robert Weiss.
“So first of all, you go down, you’re gonna start losing light, somewhere right now about 55 to 60 feet. You’re going to start losing light, you’re going to bring your own lights, it’s going to get very very dark,” said Weiss.
A picture from LCRA Archives shows Starnes Island before Lake Travis was formed. It was just a big hill near a dusty and unpaved Anderson Mill Rd. Weiss pointed out how the search grid shifted.
“Originally the concern was the target was in the line of trees, when in actuality she was found in the flat area,” said Weiss.
That is the location where Scott fell off a party barge and has been missing since. Authorities have not officially identified the body as Scott.
TCSO says they were able to use video from the party barge and pin point a grid area of where Scott likely was.
“We were able to take that video freeze frame to that exact moment in time and using fixed points from the shoreline were able to come up with an area of the lake that it was most likely she might be,” said Dark.
If the autopsy confirms this is the body of Rachel Scott it will provide some much needed closure for her family. But the search effort out on the lake will continue.
Lake Travis still holds at least a dozen bodies. An area near Mansfield Dam is the location for another recent case. It’s where Manuel Salas was last seen in May. Water depth there is also a challenge; it’s about 160 feet deep here.
“We are going to continue to look for him but it is a much more perilous process because of how deep the water is in the area where he was last seen,” said Dark.
The body recovered Friday morning is the fifth to be removed this year from Lake Travis. Officials pledge they will not give up searching until all those who remain lost are brought home.