Update: Information Regarding Public Drowning on Toledo Bend Lake

The Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Office wish to update the public of the drowning which occurred on Toledo Bend Lake on July 31, 2021.
The drowning claimed the lives of 46-year-old Paul L. Murphy Jr. and 44-year-old Joseph L. Sam Jr., both of Opelousas, and 40-year-old James F. Young, of Lafayette.
The investigation is being conducted by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries and is still under investigation. Authorities began to look for the three men and their small aluminum boat after they did not return to the boat launch at the end of LA Highway 1215. Some of the men’s fishing gear was found but the boat they were in has not been located. One of the men was found wearing a life jacket and the other two were not.
According to Wildlife and Fisheries Region 3 Captain Trey Mason, the investigation is ongoing and autopsy results of the three men are pending. The preliminary result of the investigation is fresh water drowning at this time.
Wildlife and Fisheries Agents continue to search for boat, which is believed to be on the bottom, when they are out on the lake.
Any specific questions can be directed to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
The Sabine Parish Journal will post any updates or news as it becomes available.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) enforcement agents are investigating a fatal boating incident that occurred in Sabine Parish on July 30.

The bodies of Paul L. Murphy Jr., 46, of Opelousas, Joseph L. Sam Jr., 44, of Opelousas, James F. Young, 40, of Lafayette, were recovered from Toledo Bend.

LDWF agents were notified around 10 a.m. on July 30 about three overdo boaters on Toledo Bend. According to a witness, the three men launched a 14-foot vessel around 10:30 p.m. on July 30 at the Hwy. 1215 boat launch.

The body of Murphy Jr. was recovered around 12:45 p.m. wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) on July 31 near Stonewall Jackson Dr.  The bodies of Sam Jr. and Young we’re recovered around 7 a.m. on Aug. 1 without wearing PFDs.

The search is continuing for the vessel. It is unknown at this time what happened to cause the men to enter the water and their boat to sink.

LDWF will be the lead investigative agency for this boating incident. LDWF agents and Sabine Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies are still looking for the sunken vessel.  The bodies of the men were turned over to the Sabine Parish Coroner’s Office to determine official causes of death.

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