[Jesse was a good man who I was fortunate enough to know for many, many years. Please add this to your site. Jesse was not a religious person as far as I know but he was a model of Christ-like living. May his soul rest in peace and may God grant him eternal peace in the glory of Heaven.
Feel free to edit this as you like. It is a bit long. I do not know his date of birth. He passed away on July 9th, 2009.]
Members of a Willis family are grieving the loss of one of their loved ones – a man who once played for the Chicago Cubs – after his body was discovered Friday afternoon in the Trinity River, where he apparently drowned.
Jesse Edward Hollins, 39, went missing Thursday afternoon below the Lake Livingston Dam while fishing with his brother, Stacey, and an unknown number of children. His body was found around 4 p.m. Friday very close to the area where he was reported to have entered the Trinity River, according to a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department press release.
“The family is still over there trying to come to grips with the situation,” Willis Mayor Leonard Reed, Hollins’ uncle, said Friday morning.
TPWD game wardens responded to the call of a possible drowning around 3 p.m. Thursday, according to a TPWD press release. Hollins was fishing on the Polk County bank of the river when he disappeared.
The multi-agency search included the Montgomery County Precinct 1 Dive Team, which left at 5:30 a.m. Friday to assist, Lt. Bryan DuBose said.
Volunteers from Texas EquuSearch, a nonprofit group that assists law enforcement in search and rescue efforts, joined the search for Hollins late Thursday evening.
“Our group arrived around 10 p.m. and worked throughout the night,” said Mike Fitzpatrick, a search leader with Texas EquuSearch. “We brought in three boats to assist with those from local law enforcement.”
Also aiding in the search effort was the Trinity River Authority. John Jadrosich, public information officer, said officials reduced and redirected much of the water flow from the dam to reduce the strong water current in the search area.
The suspended discharge of the water from the lake aided searchers, who used side-scan sonar and divers to search an area of the Trinity River that is several hundred yards wide and between six and 12 feet deep, according to the TPWD press release.
“When Mr. Hollins went into the water they were still discharging into the dam,” TPWD spokesman Aaron Reed said. “It wasn’t a very high flow because of the drought, but when they began the search the Trinity River Association stopped the flow to help with the search.”
The popular fishing area also has a lot of debris, in which would be “pretty easy” to get tangled up, Texas Game Warden Capt. Shawn Phillips stated in the TPWD press release.
TPWD also had two boats with side-scan sonar, with a third in the way Friday morning, according to the release.
“We had a lot of help out here and everyone worked together really well,” Phillips stated in the release. “I’m glad we were finally able to make a recovery and that Mr. Hollins’ family can have some closure.”
The search also included the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, which did not return a phone call seeking comment, and Scenic Loop Volunteer Fire Department, which was unavailable for comment.
A graduate of Willis High School, Hollins was a “stand-out athlete,” Reed said, who played baseball and football at WHS.
After being drafted in the 40th round of the 1988 amateur draft, Hollins made his pitching debut with the Chicago Cubs Sept. 19, 1992, at the age of 22, according to Baseball-Reference.com. He pitched four games for the club.
“It was a good experience,” Reed said of Hollins’ time with the Cubs. “We were very excited for him and proud he made it to the major leagues.”
Most recently, Hollins, with others in the community, organized Sunday evening softball games in Willis, Reed said.
“He was the kind of guy who would do anything you asked him to do,” Reed said. “He was someone a lot of children could look up to.”
Eddie Ruth Lagway, a longtime Willis resident, said Hollins was involved with the youth in Willis.
“He was a true role model and a very respectable role model,” Lagway said. “He’s going to be very well missed.”
† Dona eis requiem.