Local Man Dies In Atv Wreck


The Gila County Sheriff's Department had to deal with two fatalities in the last week related to recreational activities.

A Payson man was killed in an ATV accident south of the Tonto Apache Reservation April 23. Three days earlier, a Mexican national drowned at Roosevelt Lake.

"It is a caution to everyone with the warmer weather approaching," Sgt. Craig Smith of the sheriff's department said. Smith is with the sheriff's 12-member dive recovery team. He and four other team members were called out to assist in the drowning.

The victim in the ATV accident was 20-year-old Bobby Jonathan Waterman. The accident was about a quarter-mile south of the Sonic Drive-In, off an old dirt road between the Tonto Apache Reservation and Round Valley.

Det. Brian Havey of the sheriff's department said the cause of death was trauma to the head.

"He was not wearing a helmet. A helmet probably would have saved him," Havey said.

The detective added excessive speed probably contributed to the accident as well, but that is still under investigation.


The drowning victim was Misael Rojas, 30, aka Jose Jesus Chavez, a Mexican national, according to Globe Det. Jerry Valenzuela.

Rojas had gone into the lake in heavy boots and long pants to retrieve a ball thrown into the water by children and began to struggle.

A friend attempted to rescue the victim, but failed, according to the sheriff's department.

Valenzuela said Rojas was intoxicated and had just finished eating.

The body was recovered at about 8:50 p.m., Valenzuela said.

Rojas drowned in 10 feet of water, according to Smith.

Smith said it took only 15 minutes to locate the body, using an underwater grid method.

Responding to the scene along with Smith were Lt. Adam Shepherd, deputies Jeff Slider and Colt White and volunteer Rob Berry, who is with the Payson Fire Department.

Operating the boat for the dive team was Darrell Stubbs, Smith said.

"(Rojas) was 30 yards from shore. If he'd just swam a little further he would have been in just 3 feet of water," Valenzuela said.

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