Jonathan "J.R." Wagner

Angleton Junior High teacher and coach Jonathan “J.R.” Wagner holds his catch during a December fishing trip. Wagner died while fishing in December.

SURFSIDE BEACH — An Angleton Junior High teacher and coach likely drowned during a Sunday wade-fishing trip in Christmas Bay, officials said Monday.

Coast Guard crews found Jonathan "J.R." Wagner, 30, at about 2 a.m. Monday in the general area where he had been fishing, Brazoria County Sheriff's Lt. Varon Snelgrove said.

Judge Sherry Kersh pronounced Wagner dead at the scene, Snelgrove said. His body was taken to the Galveston County medical examiner's office for an autopsy.

"He had gone down and his waders filled up with water," Snelgrove said. "He had a stringer attached to him, so it was floating and that’s how they were able to find him from the helicopter."

Wagner left his home about 4 a.m. Sunday for a solo wade-fishing trip, Snelgrove said. He spoke with his father about 11 a.m. and said he would be home within the hour. When Wagner had not arrived home by 7 p.m., his father called police, U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer 1st Class Andrew Kendrick said.

Authorities found Wagner's vehicle parked on Bluewater Highway near the spot where he had been fishing, Kendrick said. Crews from the U.S. Coast Guard, the Gulf Coast Rescue Squad and Texas Parks and Wildlife searched for the man by air and boat for several hours before locating his body.

Autopsy results are pending, but authorities believe Wagner's death was accidental, Snelgrove said.

"We don’t suspect any foul play," Snelgrove said. "It looks like an accident."

Wagner graduated from Angleton High School in 2004 and later returned to Angleton ISD to teach and coach at Angleton Junior High School, according to a letter Angleton ISD Superintendent Pat Montgomery posted to social media.

"What his students and colleagues will remember about him is his warm smile and caring heart," Montgomery said in the letter. "We are so sad at the loss of one of our AISD family members. At this time, our concern is helping J.R.’s family and our students and staff deal with the loss of a loved one."

Erinn Callahan is a reporter for The Facts. Contact her at 979-237-0150.

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