BAXTER COUNTY, Ark. – A death investigation is underway after a man’s body is found at Lake Norfork clinging to a life jacket.
That’s according to a news release issued Friday by the Baxter County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO). The agency says it was notified around 6:30 a.m. of the discovery by a caller who had left a private dock to go out fishing.
The victim has been identified as Samuel A. Balsano, Jr., 76, of Gamaliel.
The BCSO says Balsano’s body was in the water near Point 6B where Bennett’s River empties into the lake.
Sheriff’s deputies and emergency medical personnel responded to the area by vehicle and by boat and removed the body from the water around 8:15 a.m., the release says.
The BCSO says Balsano’s wife told them her husband had left their home around 7:30 p.m. Thursday to go fishing. His boat was stored at the Fout Boat Dock.
Deputies say he was seen leaving the boat dock in his boat between 7:30 and 8 p.m. Thursday. The boat, described as a 1976 Hydrasport boat with an 85 hp Johnson outboard motor, had not been found as of late Friday morning.
There was no sign of injury or trauma to the body, the BCSO says, adding that Balsano was said to have health issues.
The body is being sent to the Arkansas State Medical Examiner’s Office in Little Rock for autopsy to determine the cause and manner of death.
Officers are continuing to look for the boat, and the incident remains under investigation.