Wednesday, 29 May 2024

No sign yet of missing man; sister criticizes search

10 CLEAR LAKE – Another long day of searching yielded no sign of a Windsor man who was last seen Saturday as he went into the waters of Clear Lake.

Matthew Zanoni, 22, was on a pontoon boat with friends when he fell of jumped into Clear Lake at about 3 p.m. Saturday, as Lake County News previously reported.

Sgt. Dennis Ostini of the Lake County Sheriff’s Boat Patrol said divers resumed searching at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Jennifer Zanoni, 28, Matthew Zanoni’s older sister, said she was out on the water near the diving operations, which ceased for the day at about 5 p.m.

Ostini said the 360-degree sonar scanning equipment, provided by Aqua-Tec Inc. of Santa Rosa, picked up a form Tuesday that divers thought might be Zanoni. However, it turned out to be a log with a branch sticking out.

Eight divers were in the water Monday, said Ostini, with a few less divers at work Tuesday.

Jennifer Zanoni, whose family is in the county for the search, said she was unhappy with the county’s efforts to find her brother.

“They’re not doing all they can do,” she said.

Zanoni said she and Ostini met Tuesday morning, and that they disagreed over how the search should be handled.

“I was very respectful and very calm,” said Zanoni. “I didn’t go in to harass them.”

Zanoni accused the sheriff’s department of turning down help from outside agencies she has contacted, including San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office.

Ostini said the sheriff’s department is not turning down help in the search, and said they may have San Mateo come in on the search.

They have, however, decided not to call in more resources at this time, a decision Ostini said was made by Lt. Gary Basor, who is in charge of the search effort.

That's largely because the search area is a relatively small one, Ostini said, with water depth averaging 28 to 29 feet deep, with a 6-foot layer of mud at the bottom. Putting more people in the water won't necessarily help, he added.

Piecing together what happened

Zanoni said she’s still not clear what happened on the pontoon boat her brother was riding on before he went into the lake.

She said her brother left their mother's home in Windsor at about noon on Saturday to attend BoardStock. He hadn't felt up to going, but went anyway, meeting up with a group that included friend Brian McKinney, a former Windsor resident now living in Sacramento, who brought his pontoon boat over for the weekend.

Zanoni said Brian McKinney, McKinney's brother and another young man named Nate were the only people he knew on the boat, which had six or seven passengers.

She said she carefully questioned McKinney Tuesday about what occurred when her brother disappeared.

The group was in the Shag Rock area, near Buckingham and the Narrows, east of Lakeport, when they stopped the boat and turned off the motor, about 100 to 150 yards offshore, Zanoni said.

A few of the young women went swimming off the boat, while Matt Zanoni stood at the front of the boat, with the boat's railing shut, Jennifer Zanoni said.

She said Brian McKinney told her that everything seemed OK and then suddenly Matt Zanoni was over the rail and head first into the water. “He didn't jump off,” his sister said.

Several of the boat's passengers went into the water to look for him while calls were placed to 911, Zanoni said. McKinney claimed to have made five 911 calls before help was sent out.

She reported that officials have told her they are “certain there is no foul play.”

Zanoni, however, questions how her brother ended up in the lake. “Something is just not right.”

Rescue divers again held a planning session Tuesday night to discuss operations Wednesday, Ostini said.

Zanoni, however, said Basor informed her Tuesday evening that there were no plans to continue the search.

Lake County News could not contact officials Tuesday night to confirm a change in search plans.

Zanoni said her father was appreciative of the sheriff's office effort, but Zanoni herself remained highly critical, calling them “uncooperative.”

She said she wants to bring her brother home. “We're here 'til we find him. My dad's not leaving.”

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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