RIDGE MANOR WEST — Teresa Voiles stood silently Tuesday morning as she kept a lakeside vigil, her eyes fixed on divers searching for her husband's body.
All of the clues pointed to a tragic end to her husband of six years, David Voiles, a 43-year-old Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient who never returned to the couple's home east of Brooksville on Monday. A certified diver since high school, Voiles arrived at the Sherman Hills Golf Club earlier that day to retrieve golf balls from the lake near the 10th hole, at the bottom of a hill where the clubhouse is perched.
He made a phone call at 3 p.m., but no one heard from him after that. Someone from the golf club called deputies just before 7 p.m. to report that Voiles had not returned. His white Buick was still parked in the clubhouse lot, and the golf cart he'd used to carry his equipment sat at the lake's edge.
Now it was Tuesday morning, and Teresa, 44, huddled against a biting wind as divers from the Pasco Sheriff's Office bubbled to the surface and then went under again. At about 10:45 a.m., a Hernando sheriff's detective walked up and put an arm around her. The sobs started a few minutes later, then turned to wails as family members guided Teresa away from the lake's edge and into a waiting car. They declined to speak to reporters.
Divers found Voiles' body in about 8 feet of water, roughly 40 yards from his golf cart. How he died had not been determined Tuesday, but his body showed no signs of trauma, indicating that a medical issue or equipment trouble, not an alligator attack, probably was the cause, authorities said.
During a brief press conference, Hernando Sheriff Al Nienhuis noted that Voiles had recently received an award for rushing to the aid of a woman who drove her car into a canal off Shoal Line Boulevard.
"He will be missed not just by his family, but by the community," Nienhuis said.
An Indiana native who stood about 6 feet tall and played amateur football as a younger man, David Voiles was known for his sense of humor, friends said.
"David was a very loving guy," said Amber Ackley, a 20-year-old Montverde resident who drove to Hernando County on Monday night to be with Teresa, who works at a local day care center. "He always liked to make people laugh."
Voiles served in Army from 1988 to 1991 and earned a degree in recreation administration with a focus in sports management from Ferrum College. He lived in St. Cloud for a number of years, coaching boys football and getting married there in his early 20s, according to a 1989 story in the Orlando Sentinel.
Voiles was deployed to Kuwait and Iraq from 2004 to 2005 as a member of the Tennessee Army National Guard, said Master Sgt. Thomas Kielbasa, spokesman for the Florida National Guard. He received a Purple Heart and the Army Commendation Medal, among other commendations, for his service in Iraq, Kielbasa said.
Voiles was wearing his Army uniform in 2005 when he married Teresa, who goes by Terre, in a backyard ceremony at their home in Hernando, said Joe Santerelli, pastor at Hillside Community Baptist Church, east of Brooksville, where the couple attended services twice a week. Santerelli, who also serves as a chaplain for the Hernando Sheriff's Office, officiated at the ceremony and was by Terre's side Tuesday when divers found her husband's body.
Voiles joined the Florida National Guard the following year and was a staff sergeant assigned as a motor transport operator for the A Company, 53rd Brigade Support Battalion based in Pinellas Park, Kielbasa said.
That same year, Voiles founded Krush Sports & Entertainment, a nonprofit organization that aimed to use minor league football players as mentors, according to its website.
Voiles was also taking online seminary courses through Liberty University, a Christian college based in Lynchburg, Va. He had thoughts of becoming a chaplain himself, Santerelli said, and volunteered with Hillside's youth group.
"He just helped out wherever he was needed," Santerelli said.
In the meantime, Voiles earned money diving. He recently had finished a dive job in connection with the Hernando Beach Channel dredge, Santarelli said, and for the last two years worked for local golf courses, scooping up balls from the bottoms of lakes and ponds.
One afternoon last September, Voiles was driving along Shoal Line Boulevard when he saw a car in a canal, according to a memo from a sheriff's deputy who would later nominate Voiles for a Citizen Appreciation Award. The middle-age woman inside had called 911 and told dispatchers she could not get out and that the water had risen to her windows. Voiles pulled her to safety, and by the time rescue workers arrived, the water was up to the top of the steering wheel.
"There is a good chance she would have drowned if this citizen had not intervened," Deputy Gisele Mulverhill wrote in the memo. "The canal he jumped into was probably teeming with various species of dangerous reptiles, yet he willingly risked his safety in order to help this woman."
Times photojournalist Will Vragovic contributed to this report. Tony Marrero can be reached at (352) 848-1431 or [email protected]