1. Archive

Missing boater sought

Citrus sheriff's deputies, divers and a helicopter converged on an area of Big Lake Henderson late Monday to search for a boater who did not resurface after diving off his motor boat.

The search began just before 7 p.m. after the man's teenage son, who had been riding in a boat with his father and a younger friend, tried to retrace his route to help deputies narrow the parameters.

Sheriff's Lt. Eddie Beville declined to release the name of the man, who is in his 40s.

Neighbors in the Point O' Woods neighborhood said the man, his son and a friend put the blue motor boat into the lake Monday morning. They returned to the ramp around lunchtime, then launched the boat again in the early afternoon.

Beville said the boys were taking turns jumping off the side of the boat and swimming as it puttered through the water. The father took his turn after the boat started traveling at a higher speed, Beville said.

"The father said, "I'll show you how to jump,'

" Beville said.

The boys told authorities that the man jumped off the back of the boat. They called his name and circled to find him. After about 20 minutes, they sped to the boat dock at Cove Campground to call 911.

Four boats from the Sheriff's Office and local fire departments returned to shore about 9 p.m., with nightfall ending the search. Beville said the task was made more difficult because of the sprawling search area and murky water that is about 8 feet deep.

Six divers planned to resume the search about 7 a.m. Tuesday, with the help of a body-sniffing dog from Alachua County.

Beville said he could not say what the man had been wearing. The boys told deputies they did not think the boat could have hit the man.