West Virginian Man On Vacation Drowns While Trying To Retrieve Friend’s Phone From Waterway

(Public/Screenshot/YouTube/10 Tampa Bay)

John Oyewale Contributor
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A West Virginian man vacationing in west-central Florida drowned Wednesday while trying to retrieve his friend’s phone from a waterway, authorities said Thursday.

The as-yet-unnamed man, 69, was trying alongside two friends to remove their boat at about 3:30 p.m. from the water off the Hernando Beach Boat Ramp—having concluded a six-and-a-half-hour boating session with the friends—when one of the friends’ phone fell into the water, Hernando County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) said in a statement. The victim reportedly told his friends, after all three men had removed the boat, that he was going to retrieve the phone.

The victim, taking only a pair of goggles with him, then ” jumped into the water, feet first,” from the dock to retrieve the phone, according to the statement. A female who witnessed the victim’s leap into the water and expected the victim to resurface within minutes alerted the victim’s friends when the victim did not resurface. (RELATED: Father Of Four Rushes Into Water To Save Son From Rip Current, Dies: REPORT)

Several people entered the water hoping but ultimately failing to find the victim. One of the victim’s friends called the HCSO, leading to the involvement of other organs including the HCSO Marine Unit and Underwater Operations Team, the Aviation Unit, the Florida Fish and Wildlife and Conservation Commission, and the United States Coast Guard in search of the victim, the HCSO’s statement read.

Divers found the victim’s body underwater near his point of entry into the water, at about 8:36 p.m., the HCSO said.

“Preliminary investigation indicates no signs of foul play. The incident appears to be accidental or related to a medical episode,” the HCSO said in the statement.

The victim, who had a vacation home in Florida‘s Pasco County, was living with heart disease and had a pacemaker, according to the statement.