RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – The family of a fisherman found dead in Percy Priest Lake said he died doing what he loved.
According to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), 61-year-old Gary Marcel was found in the water in the West Fork area of Rutherford County in the early morning hours of Wednesday, Sept. 13.
“He was always out here on the lake. When he didn’t have to work, he was always out here on the lake,” his son, James Gault, explained with tears in his eyes.
That’s where his father was on Tuesday, Sept. 12. He had taken his birthday week off from work to do what he loved most.
“The only thing he talked about on the phone is, ‘I caught 15 and I got to keep five,'” Gary’s daughter, Shelby Marcel, laughed.
However, Gary didn’t come home with any on Tuesday. When he didn’t return from that fishing trip, Shelby pinged his cell phone, seeing it was still at the water.
After authorities responded to the missing person report around 1 a.m. Wednesday, they reportedly found Gary’s boat and then his body some 100 yards away in the water.
“He can swim, so I don’t think he fell off and drowned in the water. I’m thinking it was either a medical emergency, heart attack, stroke, and then he was unconscious. I’m hoping that’s what it was and it wasn’t somebody that took him from us,” Shelby said as her voice began to break.
The unknown only deepens the heartache for Gary’s family.
“It’s just tough right now. We are sad. It’s hard and just hard and angry he’s gone so soon. Like you said, 61 is pretty young,” James said.
The sudden loss shattered dreams of what was ahead for the tight knit family.
“He was just so giving and caring with everyone he knew. I just want everyone to know how good of a person he was, because he was such a great human and he touched so many hearts,” said Shelby.
Gary was known as a hard worker, serving 15 years as the maintenance supervisor for an apartment complex in Murfreesboro, where he built many of his friendships.
A GoFundMe has been created to help the family with funeral expenses and any additional costs, as Gary didn’t have life insurance.
Gary’s family is waiting on his autopsy to determine exactly what happened. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency said he was not wearing a life jacket and that the investigation is ongoing.