A Richmond man enjoying a summer evening on the James River in Goochland County jumped from a boat into shallow water on Saturday and apparently was swept away, authorities said. Friends found his body in the river the following morning.
Matthew “Todd” Jackson, 42, was on a boat with some friends in Goochland, about a half-mile east of Watkins Landing, when he jumped in to retrieve a ball about 6:45 p.m. Saturday, his mother said.
Witnesses later told authorities that the water was only waist-high where Jackson went in, said Goochland Sheriff James Agnew.
“He jumped in to get something and got swept down river and disappeared from sight,” Agnew said. “The currents are not super strong there, but it can clip along 2 or 3 mph on some days.”
In that area of the river, Agnew said, some places are only 3 or 4 feet deep, but then the depth can drop off quickly.
The people who were with Jackson looked for him, Agnew said, “but if you slip under the water in water that’s not crystal clear, it’s hard to find something.”
Several law enforcement and fire-rescue agencies on Saturday launched a coordinated search of the river and its banks, including with boats and with divers under water, Agnew said. A helicopter and plane scanned the water and surrounding woods.
The search was suspended after dark and resumed Sunday morning.
Friends of Jackson took out a boat looking for him Sunday and found his body in the river near the Tarrington subdivision in Chesterfield County, one of the friends said in a text message.
Shortly before 11 a.m., the Goochland Sheriff’s Office announced that the body had been located after authorities were called to the area where Jackson had been found.
Jackson’s mother, Susie Clem, said in a phone interview Sunday that she first heard her son was missing about 8 p.m. Saturday.
“A girl I didn’t even know called me and told me he was missing,” she said.
Clem said she and her husband called the authorities and then went out and tried to find the area where Jackson disappeared, but had no luck finding it.
On Sunday, one of the friends who found Jackson’s body called Clem to tell her the tragic news, she said.
“It’s unbearable,” she said. “He was a loving and devoted son. He was our rock.”
She said Jackson had a teenage son and had grown up in Chesterfield and attended Midlothian High School. He worked as a contractor doing pipeline work, she said.
Clem said Jackson lived a half-mile from her and her husband in Richmond. “The last six months, he spent every day over here, helping us do things — projects around the house.”
“He was always trying to help out,” she said. “He would help anybody do anything, and he could fix anything.”