PORT RICHEY — A former candidate for the Pasco County Commission died late Sunday night when the boat he was riding on hit a channel marker in Port Richey, authorities said.
Joshua Griffin, 29, was ejected from the 23-foot Boston Whaler when it struck a marker shortly before midnight, said Katie Purcell, spokeswoman for Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
There were two other people on board, Purcell said.
Griffin's parents said his brother, Jeremy, was also on the boat. The two had been boating with their family earlier in the day celebrating their sister's 25th birthday.
The driver of the boat has not been identified.
"My sons were bonded together," said Griffin's father, Jeff Griffin. "They were joined at the hip. Jeremy's just devastated. This is his best friend."
Jeff Griffin said Jeremy was performing CPR on his brother when authorities arrived.
Griffin, who ran for Pasco County commissioner in 2012, was born in Pasco County. He played football for River Ridge High School and graduated with a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Tampa.
Part of a politically active family from Land O'Lakes, Griffin worked for his family's business, Bio Mass Tech, as a project manager. According to his website, he enjoyed boating, fishing, diving, hunting and sports.
His mother, Danielle, said Josh was a smart man who was a great asset to the family company and planned to pursue a law career.
"He's going to be very much missed," Danielle Griffin said. "He was an awesome, awesome man."
The family received calls, emails and visitors throughout the day Monday as friends and loved ones grieved over a man described as "Pasco County Royalty."
"Josh was extremely generous and kind," friend Walt Collins wrote in a Facebook message. "He was a man of Christ who would captivate the attention of others simply by entering a room … Josh was almost like a Biblical figure, Samsonesque, tall, handsome, a tremendous physique. You could talk with him for just a few minutes and you could just tell he was filled with the Holy Spirit."
Friends began posting on Griffin's Facebook page Monday afternoon, describing Josh as witty, compassionate and devoted to his faith.
"My friend Josh Griffin was a daring, handsome and well-spoken young man," wrote family friend Rich Jenkins. "His future was incredibly bright. He paid attention to his community and was always willing to lend a hand to the less fortunate."
Caitlin Johnston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.