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Deputies: Wesley Chapel man drowns near Gandy Beach

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Published Aug. 16, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG — A 69-year-old Wesley Chapel man drowned off Gandy Beach on Thursday, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said.

Sven Torsell of Betts Drive fell into the water just south of the beach at about 1:30 p.m., deputies said. About a half-hour later, a passing boater told friends who had accompanied Torsell that he was in the water and unresponsive.

One of the friends found Torsell unconscious, with his head partially submerged, pulled him to shore and called 911. When deputies arrived, the Sheriff's Office said, paramedics were performing CPR on the man.

He was taken to St. Anthony's Hospital and declared dead at about 2:30 p.m. Deputies are treating the man's death as a drowning.

The incident is at least the third suspected drowning near Gandy Beach this year.

Deputies say Lino Gomez, 23, was riding on an inflatable boat in April with his wife south of Gandy Beach when the current pushed their vessel into a deep channel. They tried to paddle back to shore, deputies said, but Gomez fell off the boat. He did not know how to swim and was later found floating face-down.

In June, Cruz Sale-Lopez was swimming with his girlfriend near the northwest side of Gandy Bridge when he began to have trouble keeping afloat, deputies said. The 28-year-old called out for help before sinking below the water, deputies said, and he was found unresponsive about 40 minutes later by rescue crews. His body was more than 300 feet from the shore. He had last been seen around 80 feet out.

Contact Justin Trombly at Follow @JustinTrombly.