PALMDALE – The body of Thomas Hayes, a 51-year old correctional officer for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, was pulled from the aqueduct in Palmdale Friday morning, according to a Sheriff’s report.
Preliminarily, Sheriff’s Homicide investigators believe the cause of death to be a tragic accidental drowning.
“There is no evidence of foul play,” said Sheriff’s Homicide Lieutenant John Corina.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies searched for Hayes, after passersby spotted Hayes’ dog sitting near a parked car by the aqueduct Wednesday afternoon. They checked the tag on the dog’s collar and called the number listed.
The person who answered the phone was concerned that if the dog had been left unattended, that it meant Hayes was missing.
Family members said Hayes liked to walk the family dog on a path along the aqueduct, and that in the past, he told them he had to enter the water to get the dog out.
Deputies went to the area near where Hayes’ car had been left and began a search.
“Deputies continued to check along the path of the Aqueduct and nearby areas,” said Lt. Corina, who also supervises Missing Persons cases. “The man’s information as a missing person was put into law enforcement databases and notifications were made, other databases were checked for mention of him, and multiple notifications were made with people all along the aqueduct, including employees who work there.”
Emergency Services Detail paramedic deputy divers with the Sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau were called in to check the aqueduct. They did not find Hayes, but did locate two stolen cars and a gun in the aqueduct.
The search continued, and on Friday morning, Palmdale sheriff’s deputies found Hayes’ body in the aqueduct at a pumping station, 30 miles south of where his car had been found.
The official cause of his death will be determined by the Office of the Los Angeles County Coroner.