Madras man's body recovered from Lake Billy Chinook

Gene Harris apparently drowned trying to save son

New technology aids in search for Madras man

CULVER, Ore. - More than two months after a Madras farmer drowned, apparently trying to save his fatally injured son in Lake Billy Chinook, a special sonar system located the 73-year-old man's body Friday afternoon, Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins said.

Around 3 p.m., Gene Ralston of Idaho-based Ralston & Associates and his team used their side-scan sonor equipment to search the Crooked River arm of Lake Billy Chinook and located the body of Eugene Harris, Adkins said.

Harris's body was found in 115 feet of water, the sheriff said, and was recovered using a remote-controlled robot.

An earlier search using similar gear from the Klamath County Sheriff's Office failed to find Harris's body in the days after an accident that also claimed his son, Mark Harris, 37.

The farming father and son had gone to the lake to water ski before going to work that day, and the son apparently was struck in the head by either the boat or a ski after he fell into the water.

A witness reported seeing the father jump in the lake to help his injured son, seeing his head bob up before disappearing beneath the surface.

"It's a real relief being able to bring closure for the family," Adkins told NewsChannel 21 on Saturday. "They are happy that Gene has been recovered and now they can put this behind them."

While the family is relieved, so is the Madras community, many of whom helped in the search.

"I know that I've had several people from the community go out there in their own personal boats, using their own personal equipment, fancy fish finders," said Adkins. "They've been searching that area off and on ever since the incident, just trying to help, map the bottom of the arm there."

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