Laytonville man dies on fishing trip in Lake Mendocino, son missing

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Authorities called off a search Wednesday evening for a missing Laytonville man a day after the body of his father was discovered floating in Lake Mendocino.

The two men had been on a fishing trip together at the reservoir, where an empty boat at the lake’s south end caught the attention of the another boater Tuesday evening, according to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.

The boater approached the other vessel and saw the body nearby. He called for help about 7:10 p.m.

The dead man was identified as 62‑year‑old Carlos Soto of Laytonville. The missing son is Vincent Soto, 40, also of Laytonville.

“The father was found deceased at the south end of the lake. The son is missing,” Sheriff’s Lt. Shannon Barney said Wednesday.

An autopsy will be done Thursday to determine the cause of death but there was no sign of foul play, Barney said.

Initially, it was thought Carlos Soto had been fishing alone. His wallet was found in the boat, but a second wallet and cellphone for the son also were found there. Deputies called family members and learned the two had planned a day together fishing on the lake.

Deputies also found Vincent Soto’s vehicle and boat trailer parked at the north boat ramp, Barney said.

A water and shoreline search Tuesday night turned up no sign of the son, and search efforts resumed Wednesday with divers, sonar equipment, two boats, a helicopter and people hiking the lake surroundings. The search involved the Sheriff’s Office, Mendocino County Search and Rescue, personnel of the Army Corps of Engineers, family and friends of the son and a helicopter.

The operation was called off Wednesday afternoon with plans to resume Thursday morning, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Family members told deputies the men could swim. It wasn’t clear if life jackets were on the vessel, described as an 18- foot Sunbird ski boat. The father wasn’t wearing a life jacket, Barney said.

Vincent Soto could have left the lake and officials early Wednesday released his description: 5‑foot‑9, 190 pounds with short, salt‑and‑pepper hair.

He has three tattoos including “One Love” on his chest, an English Mastiff dog on his left shoulder and a Native American with feathers on his right shoulder.

Anyone with information was asked to contact sheriff’s dispatchers at 707‑463‑4086.

Staff Writer Andrew Beale contributed reporting. You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 707‑521-5412 or randi.rossmann@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter@rossmannreport.

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