It has been determined that a 65-year-old Searcy man whose body was pulled from the White River in Augusta on Monday morning died of a heart attack, according to officials.

Bill Watson of Searcy reportedly had taken a fishing trip Friday. That evening, Woodruff County Sheriff Phil Reynolds said, two men saw a boat abandoned with the motor still running caught against a logjam south of the White River bridge in Augusta and reported it to the Woodruff County Sheriff’s Office.

Reynolds said the boat was found to be registered to Watson and his truck and trailer were located at Taylor’s Bay. Watson’s phone was pinged and reportedly the last service was at 12:50 p.m. that day.

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission officers arrived at the scene, Reynolds said, and began land and water search and rescue efforts. Reynolds said Watson’s son and wife were contacted and his son helped with the search until recovery was made.

Reynolds also contacted White County Sheriff Phillip Miller, who brought his department’s dive team to help in the rescue. Watson’s body was recovered Monday at 10:10 a.m. a short distance below where his boat was first located, Reynolds said.

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Chief of Communications Keith Stephens said Wednesday that “it turns out that is not a boating accident.”

“The medical examiner determined that the cause of death was cardiac arrest,” Stephens said. “Evidently [Watson] had some prior heart issues and they determined that he had a heart attack, lost consciousness and then fell out of the boat after he hit the brushpile.”

Although Stephens said the commission’s officers “step back” when “it doesn’t involve a boating accident,” Reynolds thanked them, along with the “White County Sheriff’s Office, Woodruff County Sheriff’s Office and all the many other volunteers [who] were there from start to finish to give the family comfort and closure.”

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