Campers getting an early start on weekend river recreation on Thursday were onlookers to the area’s second drowning on the Guadalupe River since April.
New Braunfels Fire Department dive team members recovered the body of 29-year-old Roberto Chavez Celis of San Antonio, last seen swimming off the river banks at the eastern end of Rockin’ R River Rides campground in the 4500 block of River Road in New Braunfels.
“We made a recovery at 5:10 p.m.,” Canyon Lake Fire/EMS Chief Darren Brinkkoeter said around 6 p.m. on Thursday. “That’s all I have for right now – he was found underwater by NBFD dive team members and we’re waiting on the Justice of the Peace (Tom Clark) and the funeral home.”
First responders from several Comal County agencies arrived at the scene around 2 p.m.
“At approximately 1:57 p.m. we were dispatched to lower Camp Hueco Springs for a possible drowning,” said Canyon Lake Fire/EMS Battalion Chief Jason Rush, who led his unit and others at the scene.
Rush said it took 27 minutes for emergency crews to completely arrive at the site, where NBFD divers and Comal County Sheriff’s Office deputies had already began the search.
“They said they were searching for a male patient who was still in the water, and that they were in the recovery stage,” Rush said at 3:30 p.m.
CCSO’s Facebook page described Celis was last seen wearing a white shirt prior to his disappearance. The body was located 2 ½ hours later by divers in water estimated at between 15 and 20 feet deep and containing hidden pockets that made it tougher to search, Rush said.
Nearby campers who declined to be identified, said the missing man was camping with a family that included a man in his 40s, a woman in her mid-20s, and three small children. The man declined comment, only indicating the family was visiting from Mexico.
“There are no signs of foul play and the man’s death appears to be from accidental drowning,” said Jennifer Smith, CCSO’s public information officer. “This investigation is ongoing.”
Rockin’ R River Rides campground managers declined comment.
It was the second area drowning on the Guadalupe in three months. On April 25, first responders recovered the body of Eddie Torres, 38, of San Antonio, from the river near the 7200 block of Old Spring Branch Road.