Body of Ceres man who drowned at New Melones is found

Richard Matlock of Ceres is pictured with his wife, Gina, in this photo from his Facebook page.
Richard Matlock of Ceres is pictured with his wife, Gina, in this photo from his Facebook page. Matlock family

The body of Ceres resident Richard “Rick” Matlock, who drowned Aug. 18 at New Melones Reservoir, has been found, his family reported.

Shortly before 8 a.m. Monday, a fisherman reported a body in the water near the shore by the dam, the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office said. “Rick has been found. He rose to the surface. We are all so thankful and grateful for everyone’s prayers and efforts in bringing him home to his family,” the 58-year-old’s sister-in-law, Amy Thompson Beasley, wrote Monday on the page that had been raising money for his funeral and to fund search and recovery efforts by volunteers organizations.

The Matlock family had hoped his body would be recovered in time for his memorial service, but that wasn’t the case. About 450 people attended Matlock’s memorial on Saturday, and the California Highway Patrol presented his widow, Gina, with a flag, Beasley said.

Matlock was a longtime employee of E Towing and made many contacts among law enforcement officers because of his job, she said. Days after his death, the Modesto-area CHP posted on its Facebook page, “He was not only one of the best tow operators in the area, but an unbelievable person inside and out. On numerous occasions, Rick provided services to the motoring public without compensations.

“Rick never took the importance of his job lightly, as he always knew how a simple call for service was a life-altering experience for many. Rick responded to hundreds of CHP calls over his lifetime. Rick did everything possible to restore normalcy back to people’s lives. The CHP would like to extend our thoughts and prayers for Rick’s family and everyone who was blessed to know him.”

A week ago, Gene Ralston, an Idaho-based search expert, set up at New Melones. He uses high-tech, side-scan sonar that can reach depths of 1,000 feet. But Beasley reported in a gofundme update, “The lake is not sonar friendly for some reason, (and) they have had ongoing problems with the equipment.”

A search dog also had no luck because of winds and rough water, Beasley said. But continued search efforts were planned until Matlock’s body surfaced.

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