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Father-son fishing trip on California lake ends with one dead, one missing, cops say

A father-son fishing trip on a Northern California lake ended in tragedy on Tuesday, according to local authorities.

Deputies were called to the southeast end of Lake Mendocino on Tuesday evening after a dead body was spotted floating in the water, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. A witness said he discovered the body while investigating an unmanned boat nearby.

Sheriff’s deputies and officials with the Ukiah Valley Fire Authorities recovered the body. In the unattended boat, which was 50 yards away, authorities found identification that revealed the man in the water was Carlos Soto, 62, of Laytonville, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Authorities said they have not figured out how Soto died, but “there were no obvious signs of foul play being involved” and an autopsy is set for Thursday.

There was also a phone and another ID discovered in a wallet in the boat — all of it belonging to the dead man’s son, 40-year-old Vincent Soto, also of Laytonville, deputies said. The family’s vehicle and their boat trailer were found at the lake’s north boat ramp.

After contacting their family, deputies said they learned the pair had planned a daylong fishing trip on the lake and should have been together. A missing person investigation was launched in the son’s disappearance, but the initial search of the lake didn’t turn up any sign of him, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

“Right now we’re basically treating it as a missing person with a high likelihood that they’re in the lake but they could be somewhere else,” said Lt. Shannon Barney, per the Mendocino Voice.

The Sheriff’s Office’s Search and Rescue Team used boats, divers and a sonar system to comb the lake for clues, and others will be searching the shoreline, authorities said.

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Vincent Soto, the 40-year-old Laytonville, California, man pictured here, is missing following a father-son fishing trip, Mendocino County deputies said. His father, Carlos Soto, was found dead, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Mendocino County Sheriff's Office

Deputies described Vincent Soto as 5-feet-9-inches tall and 190 pounds, with short “salt and pepper” hair. The Sheriff’s Office said he “was shirtless and thought to be wearing blue denim cargo type shorts and possibly red (low top) style tennis shoes, possibly made by Nike.”

Anyone with relevant information is asked to call the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Dispatch Center at 707-463-4086.

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