Central Valley

Body recovered in San Joaquin River ID'd as Modesto man

A body pulled from the San Joaquin River was identified Friday afternoon as that of a Modesto fisherman who presumably drowned last week near Grayson, authorities said.

The body of Mike Gouker, 46, was found floating in the river on Thursday night not far from where he disappeared last week, according to Sheriff’s Lt. Charles Grom.

An autopsy Friday confirmed his identity.

On March 22, Gouker was fishing with a friend, Jeffery Bargas, 27, in the river near West Grayson and River roads when he was swept away by the current and disappeared under the water.

On Thursday, deputies received a call at 6:28 p.m. from a fisherman who saw the body. The sheriff’s reservoir unit recovered the body and turned it over to Stanislaus County coroner's officials.

Sheriff’s officials said Gouker, using some sort of device to keep himself afloat, got into the water to retrieve a snagged fishing line.

Bargas then heard Gouker shout for help and looked to see him being swept away by the river’s swift current in a northerly direction.

Deputy Andrew Winter said Bargas did not have a cell phone and decided to drive to his west Modesto home to call authorities. He said Bargas called 911 to report the incident at 4:23 p.m., which officials estimate was about 45 minutes after Gouker was last seen.

Deputies, firefighters, fish and game officials and a helicopter searched for Gouker along the river’s shore, in a boat in the water and from above that evening. The search was called off after sunset.

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