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Search for boater's body called off

The all-out search for the body of Bonefish Grill co-founder Chris Parker was called off Wednesday, though officials said they will remain on the lookout during routine patrols of Tampa Bay.

The announcement from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission came after specially trained dogs spent Wednesday looking for the 37-year-old restaurateur, presumed to have drowned Sunday when his 36-foot Spectre racing boat flipped over after hitting a wave.

Since the accident, Tampa police, the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office, Tampa Fire Rescue, the Coast Guard and Pinellas County Sheriff's Office have assisted Fish and Wildlife in the search.

"We grieve with the family, and that's why all the agencies have made the effort they have," said Gary Morse, Fish and Wildlife spokesman. "But on normal patrols tomorrow, we'll just be on the lookout. We're not doing anything extra like we've been doing in the past few days."

Wednesday's final search attempt was performed by the Pinellas Sheriff's Office canine unit and the volunteer group Search and Rescue Teams of Florida.

A total of five dogs, including German shepherds and a golden retriever, departed with their handlers from the Gandy Bridge boat ramp at about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday and worked in 60- to 90-minute shifts until midafternoon.

"We would have been out here before today, but the weather just wasn't cooperating," said Pinellas County sheriff's Deputy Ken Kubler, who went out on the last shift about 2:30 p.m. with his shepherd named Brawn.

The weather wasn't much better Wednesday. The wind-chill factor was in the 30s as the first three boats left the ramp. Wind complicates the dogs' job because it disperses scents the dogs are trained to detect.

"If it were a calm day, we'd have a much better chance," said Sylvia Scavuzzo, founder of Search and Rescue, whose dogs have searched for human remains as far away as Panama.

The dogs' search covered a large swath of the bay, from the accident scene _ a mile south of the Gandy Bridge _ to the Howard Frankland Bridge, Kubler said.

With the search formally over, loved ones began the process of saying goodbye to the personable businessman and avid boater.

Stefanie Amberg, spokeswoman for the Outback Steakhouse company, which owns Bonefish, said plans for a memorial service have not been completed.

Also Wednesday, Tampa General Hospital officials said Chris Sears, 29, one of two passengers in the boat with Parker, remained there Wednesday in good condition. The other passenger, 27-year-old Jodi Forca, was treated and released by Monday.

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