A duck hunter drowned near Port O’Connor on Tuesday after he disappeared while swimming toward his drifting boat that morning.
A bystander reported William Easterwood, 44, of Houston, missing after he was last seen swimming in Lighthouse Cove near Matagorda Island, said Game Warden Chelsea Bailey, spokeswoman for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
The cove is about six miles south of Port O’Connor.
Game wardens recovered Easterwood near the cove after he was found by a Coast Guard helicopter crew.
Coastal waters near Port O’Connor dipped to about 50 degrees Tuesday morning with the arrival of a cold front, according to the National Weather Service.
Even strong swimmers lose muscle control within 10 minutes while swimming in cold water, according to the weather service.
Monday morning, water temperatures were measured about 70 degrees.
Calhoun County Justice of the Peace Nancy Pomykal is presiding over an inquest into his death, and game wardens will complete a boat fatality report.
She pronounced the man dead at 11:15 a.m.
Pomykal said she did not request an autopsy because there was no indication of foul play in his drowning.
She said bystanders saw the man go under the water.
Bailey said Easterwood was hunting with friends when he disappeared.
Boaters or swimmers should be wary of the dangers inherent to swimming in coastal waters, Bailey said.
Rapidly changing weather and tides can make swimming offshore dangerous, and even those who consider themselves to be good swimmers can quickly become fatigued and overwhelmed.
Additionally, mariners should not attempt to swim after a drifting boat, Bailey said. In her experience, most who do are unsuccessful.
“Life is worth more than a boat,” she said, adding, “Just let it go.”