Thursday, December 14, 2017
Public safety

Four men thrown overboard off Egmont Key, one still missing

A wave flooded a small fishing boat about eight miles off Egmont Key early Sunday morning and four men jumped overboard, one of whom is still missing, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said.

The missing boater was identified Sunday evening as Enrique Rodriguez, 63, of Avon Park.

The U.S. Coast Guard and the conservation commission searched the waters off of Egmont, but had to call off the search about 4 p.m. due to inclement weather.

Jose Rodriguez, a nephew of the missing man, said the family wondered why he would have gotten on a boat in the first place, knowing that it made him sick and he couldn't swim.

"He never went on a boat," said Jose Rodriguez, 38, of Fort Lauderdale.

Enrique Rodriguez often fished the area, though he typically did it from the shore or a bridge. His nephew said the other men with him might be from his church, and that the boat belonged to one of them.

The boat, around 20 feet long, began to flood about 2:45 a.m. and Rodriguez and the three others were forced into the water. Andrew Hernandez, 26, and Manuel Perez, 41, both of Avon Park, and Joaquin Machado, 25, of Greeley, Colo., swam to a buoy in the Tampa Bay channel, authorities said.

A passing boater spotted and picked up the three men about 6 a.m. Sunday. They were taken to shore and treated for non-life threatening injuries.

The boat sank and has not been located.

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