Search underway for missing boater in Hackberry

By Lee Peck - bio | email

HACKBERRY, LA (KPLC) - "Our office was contacted around 4 p.m. to say that there was a fisherman who was overdue that hadn't heard from him in about 24 hours," said Jake McCain, detective with the Cameron Parish Sheriff's Office.

It's now going on 48 hours since anyone last saw 27-year-old Jake Welch. His aluminum boat was found overturned in the marsh late Tuesday afternoon.

"He could swim. But if you flip a boat and he was in it and you hit your head and get disoriented, he could be disoriented and walked somewhere or might be unconscious somewhere or he could have hit his head and drowned," said Jaime Welch.

Jaime says his brother made a call from his cell phone at around 3 p.m. Monday - six hours after launching off Superior Road in Hackberry - saying he was having boat problems and wasn't quiet sure where he was, but that he would be back in a couple of hours.

"That was the last anyone heard from him," said Jaime, "calls to his cell now go to voice mail."

According to Jaime, Jake knows these waters well and has been setting crab traps for years, but this time was different.

"He doesn't normally go out alone, he usually has somebody with him. Normally we have somebody with us in the marshes," said Jaime.

The overturned boat was found about 3/4 of a mile from the boat launch in shallow waters. At this time investigators don't believe it was a boating accident and say they found evidence to support that not far from the boat.

"Investigators say they found a pumpkin and his clothes along with footprints on a little island not far from the boat," explained Jaime.

"We don't know if it overturned or sank during the night but it looks like somebody had been walking around out there," said detective McCain.

For now they wait and pray those foot prints are Jake's trying to find his way home.

"I hope he's alright... Hopefully he's alright," said Jaime.

The search resumes Wednesday morning once the fog clears. Meanwhile, the U.S. Coast Guard, Wildlife and Fisheries, Cameron Sheriff's Office and Cameron OEP are expected to participate in the search.

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