Crews Pull Body from Lake Belton After Almost Ten-Hour Search


The man pulled from Lake Belton around noon Wednesday has been identified as 38-year-old Joshua Barnes.

Barnes was last arrested in 2008 in McGregor for aggravated robbery and evading. He was released from the Department of Corrections in July of this year.

Before that, he spent time in the Bell County jail in 2006 for criminal trespass.

Barnes led cops on a 40-mile high-speed chase early Wednesday morning before parking his car on the Long Bridge and jumping 60 feet to his death into Lake Belton.

Search crews spent almost ten hours trying to find his body, and pulled him out of the water around noon.



UPDATE: 3:35 p.m., October 23, 2013

A man leads cops on a 40-mile high-speed car chase before stopping his car and then jumping to his death.

Search crews spent half the day searching the east side of Lake Belton for any sign of him.

"He was seen going in, and was not see coming out," said Moffat fire chief Hal Pagel.

Pagel was called to the Leon River Bridge, also called the Long Bridge, at around 2:30 Wednesday morning.

It started as a rescue mission, but they quickly realized it was a body recovery.

"Unless you land exactly right, it's going to be like falling on concrete," Pagel said. "That water is hard at that distance."

The man, identified only as a white male, started the chase around 2 Wednesday morning in McGregor.

He passed a cop and took off his hat to hide his face.

"He was obviously, from what I understand, didn't want the police officer to recognize him," said Donnie Adams with the Bell County Sheriff's Department.

The cop spun around to pull him over, and the driver sped off down Highway 84.

"There's got to be some reason he took off and ran," Adams said.

Police don't know what that reason is yet.

But the chase ended at the Long Bridge over Lake Belton.

That's where the man got out of his Dodge pickup on the eastbound side, ran to the westbound side, and jumped -- about 60 feet down into only six or seven feet of water.

Crews searched for a little more than three hours before calling it off until sunrise.

"'Cause we got to work with the daylight on, I guess, navigating through the lake," said game warden Justin Valchar. "There's a lot of debris, the lakes are low."

Then around noon, almost ten hours after the man entered the water, the Morgan's Point dive team pulled him from the frigid lake.

Valchar was one of the rescuers called at daybreak to help search.

"It's near an old bridge that has been destroyed several years ago, so basically we had to deal with a lot of debris," he said.

That's one of the reasons it took rescue crews half the day to find the man's body. All those rocks, stumps, and trash made it hard to pin down anything with sonar.

Plus, "the water is so murky, when we put divers in, they couldn't see," said Adams, "so they had to do a hand search on the bottom."

With the height of the bridge and the shallow water, they knew he couldn't have survived the fall. But they also had trouble pinpointing where he went into the water.

Divers pulled him out of the water about 20 feet closer to shore than they originally thought.

"We are generally successful," Valchar said, "but there's a lot of times that we just have to wait."

Now the only waiting they'll have to do is for answers as to why he ran from the cops, and why he jumped to his death.

"People don't realize how hard water can be at that distance," Pagel said.

Police know who the man is, but we're waiting until his family has been notified before we identify him.

His body was sent to Dallas for an autopsy.

The Texas Rangers will likely head up the investigation.



UPDATE: 12:20 p.m., October 23, 2013 -- Divers have pulled a body from Lake Belton.

Divers have packed up and declared the search to be over.

We will bring you more information as it becomes available.


A man leads police on a high speed chase then jumps off a bridge in Bell County early Wednesday morning.

It all started with a routine traffic stop in McGregor around 2 a.m.

The driver, described only as a white male, led police on a chase from McGregor to the Leon River Bridge, also known as the Long Bridge. 

The driver then got out of his car, a pickup truck registered to a car dealership in Gatesville, on the eastbound side of the bridge, crossed over the median and jumped over the westbound railing into Lake Belton. 

It started as a rescue mission, but quickly turned to recovery. It's about a 50-60 foot drop to the water, and at that height, crews at the scene say it would be like hitting concrete.

The water is also pretty shallow -- only about ten feet deep -- so even if he did survive the fall, there's a good chance he hit the bottom of the lake. 

Police say they saw him go into the water, but didn't see him come back out. 

Crews spent several hours searching from the surface, but they could only see about an inch into the water.

The Corps of Engineers used sonar to try to find the body, but there's so much large debris in the water (trees, rocks, etc.) they didn't come up with anything definitive.

Most of the fire and police crews started leaving the scene around 6 a.m., waiting for the sun to come out so dive teams could continue the search.

The Texas Rangers are also on scene to continue the investigation. 

Stay with KCEN HD News for the latest.


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