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Man's body found south of Clearwater Memorial Causeway Bridge

CLEARWATER — Clearwater Fire & Rescue marine units retrieved an unidentified man's body from the Intracoastal Waterway on Monday afternoon, authorities said.

About 4:30 p.m., someone on a fishing boat saw a body about a half-mile south of the Memorial Causeway Bridge and called 911, Clearwater police spokeswoman Beth Watts said.

Watts would not release details about the condition of the body, but she said there is no indication of foul play.

"Detectives say his death does not appear to be a homicide," she said. "They are working to identify the body. The circumstances surrounding his death are still under investigation."

The man's body surfaced less than 24 hours after the Coast Guard suspended a search for one near Clearwater Pass.

According to the Coast Guard, two people on personal watercraft noticed a white male wearing a green and yellow hat floating face down in the channel near Marker 4 about 1:20 p.m. Sunday.

When the pair approached the possible body, it disappeared. The two riders returned to shore and alerted the watercraft rental owner, who called 911.

After a search that spanned about four hours and 20 to 25 square nautical miles, the Coast Guard and several other agencies called it off about 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

Investigators have not determined if the body that surfaced Monday is the same one that officials could not find Sunday, Watts said.

Meanwhile, a Hillsborough County family wonders if the body is that of Vu Ngu, a 37-year-old Riverview man who disappeared in the gulf during a July 11 scalloping trip near Homosassa.

"I went into the water to go after him, and I saw him lose his grip," said John Villanueva, Ngu's brother-in-law. "He was flailing his arms."

Weeks of searches by the Coast Guard, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Citrus County Sheriff's Office, relatives and volunteers turned up nothing.

"We still haven't recovered his body," said Villanueva, who said Ngu has a wife and 3-year-old son.

Rodney Thrash can be reached at rthrash@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4167.

Man's body found south of Clearwater Memorial Causeway Bridge 08/23/10 [Last modified: Monday, August 23, 2010 11:48pm]
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