Former Pagosa man missing at Navajo Lake


A former Pagosa Springs resident has been listed as a missing person after possibly having gone overboard while sailing at Navajo Lake State Park on Aug. 7.
John Porter, 78, a resident of Durango, was sailing on his sailboat alone and was not wearing a life jacket, according to Navajo Lake State Park Superintendent Chris Smith, who is the superintendent on the New Mexico side of the lake.
The investigation and search for Porter is still active, Smith explained Tuesday.
First responders in the area that included air, ground and boat responders searched the area, Smith explained.
“We’ve been searching the area ever since,” Smith said, adding that New Mexico State Police brought in dive team members to assist in the search.
Porter’s sailboat was found around 7 p.m. and was unoccupied, Smith explained.
“He was sailing alone, which is a normal operation for him, and it is believed that unknown circumstances caused him to go overboard without a life jacket,” he said.
Navajo Lake has depths up to 400 feet, and the area where Porter was has depths varying from about 150 feet up to 300 feet, Smith explained.
Witnesses saw Porter on his sailboat shortly before 7 p.m., Smith noted.
“He was seen operating his sailboat that day by numerous witnesses,” he said. “We also have some members from the Coast Guard Auxiliary that had just talked with him and seen him as he was bringing his sail boat in to slip it for the evening.”
Porter’s neighbor, who has a slip next to Porter’s, had seen Porter’s sailboat coming in as well, with normal operations, Smith explained further.
“And then, a short time after that is when it was determined that the vessel may have been in trouble, so multiple people approached the vessel to try and assist and that’s when it was determined that nobody was on board,” Smith described.
No foul play is suspected, Smith noted.
“Right now we’re not going to say anything definitive. We don’t have anything to, evidentiary-wise, to say one way or the other whether he did in fact go overboard without a life jacket and drown or if he was able to get out of the area somehow,” Smith said.
Those with any information pertaining to Porter’s disappearance can contact Navajo Lake State Park at (505) 632-2278.