7/11/19 — The remains of Vincent Soto, who has been missing for about a month since a tragic fishing trip, may have been found at the bottom of Lake Mendocino, right next to the bottom of Coyote Dam, and divers from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will soon be mounting a potential recovery. The discovery was made with sonar, by a diving robot that was lent by the Marin County Sheriff’s Office. However, the small submersible could not use its cameras to positively identify the object, so a definitive identification has not yet been made. To accomplish this upcoming dive, the flow of Lake Mendocino into the Russian River may actually be stopped for a brief period, a relatively unprecedented event.
Soto’s family has been holding a continual vigil at the lake shore, which may be finally coming to an end. Theresa Rodriguez, Soto’s cousin, said, “We feel we finally have some light to this darkness. I know for myself for the first time in 29 days as of yesterday I got to go home without the heaviness in my heart.”
Soto and his father Carlos Soto, went on a fishing trip a month ago, and on June 11 the body of Carlos Soto was found floating in Lake Mendocino. The wallets and phones of both men were still in the fishing boat, which was adrift, and since then an intense search effort has ensued.
Lt. Shannon Barney of the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office explained that the robot found an object that is the “general shape that could be a body.” The “object” is at the mouth of the outlet of the dam. Unfortunately, visibility at the bottom of the lake was extremely poor, perhaps only six inches, with the propeller blades on the robot actually churning up silt and making cameras almost useless. Instead the object has been identified by sonar mounted on the bot.
Due to these conditions the MCSO will be getting help from the L.A. Sheriff’s Department’s specially trained divers. The object is at 112 feet below the surface of the lake, a fairly deep dive. What’s more, the currents created by the slow drain of the lake through Coyote Dam into the Russian River create potentially dangerous currents. The MCSO cooperated with Sonoma Water, and the Army Corp of Engineers in reducing the flow of water out of the lake down to only 10 cubic feet per second (CFP), much lower than normal, in order to safely operate the robot. This process took a few days and result in the level of the Russian dropping somewhat (see links below for details).
In order for the L.A.S.D. divers to make the dive safely the current will have to be even slower, otherwise the divers might be swept into the dam outlet, meaning that the MCSO has made a request to the Army Corp and Sonoma Water to actually completely stop the flow of water through Coyote Dam for up two hours. This amount of time will give the divers time to positively identify the object, and if it is the remains of Vincent Soto, to then recover his body.
Commenting on the substantial level of cooperation between these various law enforcement and water agencies, Lt. Barney noted that “All of those agencies have been wonderful to work with.” Indeed the dam has almost never been shut down, and only for maintenance.
Barney added, that he hopes the recovery of remains will “provide some closure for the family.”
Here is the full statement sent by Theresa Rodriguez via Facebook:
…our family has finally got a sense of relief, after all this time we now have something positive to hold onto. And pray that soon everything will be set up to finally get my cousin out of this lake. We are SO GRATEFUL for ALL the county’s organizations and volunteers for everything. We feel we finally have some light to this darkness. I know for myself for the first time in 29 days as of yesterday I got to go home without the heaviness in my heart. I just want my cousin back our family just wants this to be over so we can bring peace , closer and to full begin healing. We still have the hardest of days coming but these past 30 days today have been the most devastating, distraught, torturous heartbreaking days. We pray soon we have closure and peace. Being able to properly honor and lay my cousin to rest with his dad is all we want.Theresa
Here is our past coverage of this sad situation: