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Emigrant Lake drowning victim identified as Medford man

Police have released the name of the man who was found dead in Emigrant Lake on Labor Day.

Capt. Tim Snaith of the Jackson County Sheriff's Department identified the man as 43-year-old Herminio Villasenor-Aguilar of Medford.

Villasenor-Aguilar had reportedly been swimming in a cove near the Emigrant Lake water slides, in the 100 block of Emigrant Lake Road outside Ashland, just before 1 p.m. in an area not far offshore. A witness told investigators he began to show signs of struggle, then went under and did not resurface.

The sheriff's department, Jackson County Fire District No. 5 and Ashland Fire & Rescue responded to the scene for an initial search of the area. Responders eventually asked swimmers to vacate the swim cove so sheriff's marine patrol units could search the waters more thoroughly. When their search still turned up nothing, a search and rescue dive team responded to the scene.

Divers combed the area, about 30 to 50 feet from the nearest shoreline, for about 1½ hours, according to Sgt. Shawn Richards of search and rescue. Divers swept back and forth in an area below the surface, feeling for the man's body with their hands because of murky visibility on the lake bottom. A small crowd of people gathered, looking on as the search progressed. 

Divers found Villasenor-Aguilar's body at about 4:15 p.m., submerged in at least 10 feet of water. Autopsy results on the official cause of his death are still pending, and it is not known when they will be complete.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.

A Jackson County Search and Rescue dive team looks for the body of a 40-year-old man who drowned just off shore Monday at Emigrant Lake in Ashland. Mail Tribune / Denise Baratta