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Lost fisherman's body found

Published Sep. 13, 2005

The body of a Tampa man who went overboard during an overnight fishing trip last month has been found 30 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico.

The FBI is investigating whether James A. Brandon Jr.'s death was an accident.

Brandon's body was identified Wednesday morning through dental records. Fishermen found his body Saturday 30 miles west of Anna Maria Island, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Currents carried him roughly 50 miles south from where he disappeared.

Brandon, a 26-year-old floor installer, was supposed to get married on May 22.

On March 27, Brandon and five friends from work were among 60 passengers to board the Florida Fisherman II at Hubbard's Marina at John's Pass. They were going on a 34-hour tour to fish for grouper in the Florida Middle Grounds, about 90 miles off Port Richey.

Brandon was last seen fishing off the starboard deck at 2 a.m. March 28, about 60 miles offshore. His friends went to bed. Brandon was missing when they got up.

Witnesses said Brandon had argued with someone on the 72-foot catamaran. The FBI is still looking into his death, said FBI spokeswoman Barbara Madden.

Brandon's mother, Suzanne Brandon of Tampa, does not believe her son would have fallen off the boat accidentally. She said her son knows how to swim and has been fishing all his life.

The Coast Guard turned Brandon's body over to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office. A medical examiner will do more tests to determine the cause of his death.