Dead body identified

CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson An ambulance carries the body of 20-year-old Isaac Zarate from the field where he was found Monday.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

A body found in a Curry County field is that of a 20-year-old Clovis man reported missing since Thursday, according to the sheriff’s department.

A utility employee located Isaac Zarate’s body around 3 p.m. Monday in the center of a remote section of land at Sugarbeet and Wilhite roads.

Undersheriff Wesley Waller said the cause of death is undetermined. He said autopsy results are expected today.

Waller declined to comment on the circumstances in which the body was found or preliminary cause of death, citing an ongoing investigation.

Zarate was involved in a two-vehicle accident Thursday morning with an unoccupied, parked vehicle on Sugarbeet Road and left the scene of the crash, according to Waller.

Leticia Zarate said her son left home for work at 5:45 a.m. Thursday. The last call made from his phone was at 7:02 a.m. His damaged vehicle was discovered by a passerby around 6:45 a.m., she said.

ATV and helicopter searches were conducted in the fields near the accident scene, Waller said.

The crash site was approximately a mile and a half from the location where his body was later located, Waller said.

Family friend Page Tonche said large groups of family, friends and community members searched the area around the crash site Thursday and Friday.

Zarate’s friends and family also posted flyers throughout the community as well as bulletins on MySpace asking for information on his whereabouts.

Waller said law enforcement received multiple reports that Zarate had been seen in the community, which led investigators to believe Zarate was well and somewhere in the Clovis area, but was eluding authorities because he feared repercussions for leaving the accident scene, Waller said.

Zarate’s family is still in shock after five long days of searching and praying for the young man’s safe return, Leticia Zarate said.

“He was the best son ever. Ever. I will miss him a lot. He made my days,” she said tearfully. “Every time I was angry and upset or frustrated for some reason, he would say ‘come here mom, you need a hug.’”

The victim was a 2006 graduate of Texico High School.

Leticia Zarate said her son’s ashes will be spread at South Padre Island, a place the family spent many vacations and a place he always loved.