Sunday, November 19, 2017
Public safety

Body found in gulf off Clearwater is identified

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CLEARWATER — Police have identified the man whose body was found 3 miles off Clearwater Pass in the Gulf of Mexico last week.

Jose Gabriel Fajardo, 40, of Tampa, was last seen at 5 p.m. Sept. 15 behind the Holiday Inn Sunspree at 521 S Gulfview Blvd. on Clearwater Beach. He was there with his cousin and her family when he told her he was going to swim from the Sunspree, which is located on Clearwater Pass, to Shephard's Beach Resort nearby.

The cousin went to Shephard's around 8 p.m. Sunday to look for him, but couldn't find him. Clearwater police were not notified he was missing until Monday evening.

The U.S. Coast Guard received a call from the Reel Deal fishing boat Sept. 17 reporting a body in the water. A unit from Coast Guard Station Sand Key retrieved the body less than an hour later and brought it ashore.

Fajardo had been drinking alcohol before he attempted to swim from one hotel to the other, the cousin told police. His cause of death has not been released. Fajardo is the second man who apparently drowned near Clearwater Pass within the past month. James Poindexter, 27, disappeared while wading in the Intracoastal Waterway near the pass on Labor Day. His body was recovered from the Gulf of Mexico two days later.

Clearwater Pass is a narrow channel between Clearwater Beach and Sand Key.

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