The search for the two Tehachapi men and 14-year-old boy who went missing Saturday morning after their boat capsized on June Lake in Mono County ended Tuesday when their bodies were recovered at approximately 11:30 a.m.
The three people who died were identified by family liaison and Tehachapi City Manager Greg Garrett, and confirmed by the Mono County Sheriff's Office, as Doug Langston, 46, his son Jacob Langston, 14, and son-in-law Caleb Johnson, 21.
"They brought them to shore, so the family can start their closure," said Garrett, who held vigil at the lake with family members since the accident happened.
According to the Mono County Sheriff's Office, the five family members took their personal boat out on June Lake, and around 10 a.m. Saturday, the boat began taking on water, capsized and sank. Two made it to shore. After days of searching, the boat and the bodies of the three missing people were located near the middle of the lake.
The Sheriff's Office wrote on its Facebook page on Tuesday, "Winds were blowing strong from the west, and the water was very choppy. None of the boaters were wearing life jackets. Two of the men made it to shore, but the other three could not be found. First responders searched both on the water and from the shore until daylight was lost."
The two other men who were aboard the boat and swam to shore were identified as Caleb Crouch, 22, and Jon Langston, also 22. Both men were medically treated and released.
"On behalf of the family, I want to thank the community of June Lake, the Mono County Sheriff's Office and the Dive Team for everything they have done," said a tearful Garrett. "This has been a tragedy for them as well, and their tremendous love and support has been overwhelming. Somehow this tragedy has brought this community together, and I personally want to thank them for their hospitality. We could never thank them enough."
According to Tehachapi High School Principal Scott Heitman, Jacob Langston was a 10th grade student at THS. His mother, Hilary Romo, is a special education teacher at the school.
"On Monday, Tehachapi High School set up a safe area to provide students and staff a place to work out their grief," Heitman said.
The principal said the school will continue to have a school psychologist and counselors available for as long as needed. He praised the community for rallying around the Tehachapi Unified School District and THS by offering words of condolence and support.
Said Heitman, "We are a family here."
Assisting in the recovery was the San Bernardino County Sheriff Emergency Operations Dive Rescue, Mono County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue, Lyon County Search and Rescue, Mary Cablk and Inca, June Lake Fire Department, Lee Vining Fire Department, Mammoth Lakes Fire Department, Mono County Paramedics, US Forest Service and Sierra Lifeflight.
At times, the search had to be suspended because of darkness and the weather.
The Mammoth Times reported on its website that "June Lake is very deep and has a silty bottom, which makes it hard to see and find the victims."
The newspaper quoted Mono County Sheriff Ingrid Braun as saying, "It is not that big of a lake but it is very deep and it has a silty bottom." The sheriff also said, "We are doing our best to bring them home to their families as fast as possible."
The sheriff's office thanked the many local businesses that supported their efforts and cared for the families during the search, including Boulder Lodge, June Lake Marina, Double Eagle Resort, Hideaway Condominiums, Fern Creek Lodge, Stellar Brew, Trouttown Joe’s, Looney Bean Coffee in Bishop, O’Hana’s 395, Big Rock Resort and June Lake Ski Area.
The sheriff's office wrote on its Facebook page, "We apologize for anyone we may have overlooked. The community of June Lake and all of Mono County truly wrapped their arms around the families and the first responders and took great care of us during this tragedy. The families expressed repeatedly how loved and cared for they felt."
Several efforts to assist the families financially have been set up, including two Go Fund Me campaigns located at the following websites:
Donations can also be made to the Jacob Langston Memorial Fund at Bank of the Sierra. No account number is necessary, just mention Jacob's name, a bank employee said.
A bake sale will be held in front of Kmart from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, with proceeds to benefit the Romo/Langston families.
"My daughter, Brianna, is in Hilary Romo's class, and she knew Jacob," said Tina Bearden, coordinator of the sale.
Bearden welcomes donations to the sale, and said she would be at Starbucks on Thursday, from 6:30 to 7 p.m., to pick up donations, either monetary or baked goods.
For more information on the bake sale, call Tina Bearden at 974-4536.