Day after boy drowns, three bodies of family members pulled out of Hagg Lake

Day after boy drowns, three bodies of family members pulled out of Hagg Lake »Play Video
Officials search Hagg Lake Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014 for members of a Hillsboro family after a 3-year-old boy was pulled unconscious from the lake the day before. Efforts to save him were unsuccessful. On Tuesday, authorities found the bodies of the boy's mother, grandmother and uncle in the lake.

HAGG LAKE, Ore. – A day after a 3-year-old boy drowned at Henry Hagg Lake, three of his family members' bodies were pulled from there Tuesday morning.

Sheriff’s deputies had been searching for the boy’s family after he was found unconscious in the water Monday evening around 6 p.m. Efforts to save the boy were unsuccessful.

Deputies had found a beach towel, cooler and other things nearby, as well as a car in the parking lot.

Washington County Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Bob Ray said the boy's family members were found about 50 yards from where the boy was found, 30 to 40 feet offshore and in 8 to 15 feet of water.

He identified the victims as 3-year-old Jeremy Scholl, 13-year-old Michael Garcia-Ixtacua, 25-year-old Gabriela Garcia-Ixtacua and 42-year-old Jova Ixtacua-Castano.

Ray said Gabriela Garcia-Ixtacua was the 3-year-old boy's mother, Jova Ixtacua-Castano was the boy's grandmother and Michael Garcia-Ixtacua was the boy's uncle.

The family - who lived together in nearby Hillsboro - had gone to Henry Hagg Lake on Monday for a picnic.

Ray said there was no evidence of foul play and the victims weren't wearing life jackets. The sheriff's office does not know at this time what happened but considers it a "tragic accident."

He said someone may have gotten into trouble in the water and the others tried to help.

Gaston fire Chief Roger Mesenbrink said he was the first to the scene Tuesday night after someone found the 3-year-old's body.

"(I) ran over to the bank, and they were down there at the water's edge doing CPR," said Mesenbrink. "We grabbed our medical gear and one of our other units went with me. ... I started CPR, brought him up into the ambulance, worked him to the point we had to stop." 

Nobody saw what happened Monday. The search was called off Monday night around 10:30, and began again Tuesday morning at 10.

The last drowning in Hagg Lake was in 2008. Ray said there are daily patrols but the lake is huge.

The danger at the lake this time of year is the water is so low, and the creek channels that cut through and feed into the lake, carve out deep drop-offs that are more exposed with shallow water.

Officials closed the lake Tuesday out of respect for the family, but the sheriff's office said it will reopen Wednesday.

Family's neighbor shocked

Mary Borts said the entire family lived next door to her, and they were very close. She'd heard about what happened Monday at Hagg Lake and her worst fears were confirmed Tuesday.

Borts said Gabriela Garcia-Ixtacua was always careful with her 3-year-old boy. She can't imagine what went wrong that led to the family drowning in the lake.

Remaining family members were grieving privately Tuesday at their Hillsboro home.

"It's devastating. It's sad," said Borts. "Sure they're going through a horrible time. We wish them the very best. We're praying for them."

Borts didn't know how well anyone in the family was able to swim or whether they were very familiar with Hagg Lake.

Michael Garcia-Ixtacua was supposed to start eighth grade at Evergreen Middle School in Hillsboro when school started a week from Thursday.

KATU's Emily Sinovic, Bob Heye and The Associated Press contributed to this story.