SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY -- The two East Bay men who drowned over the weekend after their fishing boat capsized in the Delta near Stockton were both loving fathers, with 17 children between them, friends and family said Monday.
Johnnie Johnson II, 37, of Hayward, and Acemoore Pittman, 41, of Oakland, were friends who had gone fishing Saturday with a third man, officials said.
Their 12-foot aluminum boat, which apparently belonged to Pittman, capsized sometime Saturday morning, possibly when one of the men stood up in it, San Joaquin Sheriff's Lt. Phil George said. A passing boater was able to rescue the third man, identified as Joseph Bell, but Johnson and Pittman disappeared.
Search parties found Johnson's body within a few hours, George said.
Pittman was not found until about 8:30 p.m. Sunday in nearby Whiskey Slough, not far from the end of Davini Road, George said. None of the men appeared to have been wearing a life jacket.
It was not immediately clear whether strong currents or other weather factors played a part in the tragedy, George said.
Johnson's wife, Jamecia Harris, said Monday morning she was struggling to cope with the tragedy.
"We've got eight kids. And their provider is gone. So I don't know what to do," she said.
Pittman's older sister, Luvera Pittman, said her brother had been with his wife for more than 20 years, and that he was the father of nine children, ages 3 to 24 years old.
He'd also been a lifelong fisherman who was comfortable in and near water, she said.
"That's what kind of got us boggled: Ace was a good swimmer. That's why we're so devastated," Luvera Pittman said. "This is the first time he ever went fishing without a life jacket."
Acemoore Pittman was born and raised in Oakland and learned to love freshwater fishing at a young age, his sister said. He'd also been a talented athlete in both football and track and field at Castlemont High School before he graduated in 1990, she said.
Trying to process her brother's death Monday morning, Luvera Pittman said she wanted to send the message: "No matter what your family is going through, always tell your family members, no matter what, that you love them. Life is too short."
Both families said they're likely to need financial help as they struggle to cope with losing their providers.
Carol Ferguson Jones, a friend of Pittman's and founder of the Oakland nonprofit MORE Foundation, said she'll be hosting a fundraiser Saturday at the Morning Star Baptist Church at 1136 34th St. in Oakland.
Contact Sean Maher at 925-943-8013. Follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/oneseanmaher.