Boater missing on the Choctawhatchee Bay

July 20, 2009

An elderly man is still missing near Clyde B. Wells bridge on Choctawhatchee Bay.
An elderly man is still missing near Clyde B. Wells bridge on Choctawhatchee Bay.

UPDATE: Body recovered

At around 6:30 p.m. July 20, recovery teams discovered the body of the missing boater.  He was found about 30-yards from where the initial incident took place on the Choctawhatchee Bay.

Authorities are in the process of notifying the man’s next of kin.  The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is the lead investigating agency.  They will handle any future news releases in regard to this tragedy.

First release ——

Choctawhatchee Bay – A recovery effort will continue on the Choctawhatchee Bay for a person who went overboard following a boating mishap around 1:30 this afternoon.   The Walton County Sheriff’s Office is assisting the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in its effort to find the man.

At the time of the incident, the victim along with another man and a 12-year-old girl were aboard a 16-foot outboard Key West motorboat which was westbound along the Choctawhatchee Bay.  The accident happened north of the Clyde Wells Bridge when the boat collided with a cement piling underneath the Highway 331 causeway.  All three occupants were thrown overboard.  The girl and one of the men received minor injuries, and were able to make it to shore safely.  They’ve been taken to Sacred Heart Hospital in South Walton County for observation.
The third person, reportedly in his seventies’, disappeared after going into the water.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office dive team, along with Freeport’s Fire-Rescue personnel searched for the missing man.  The U.S. Coast Guard is also involved in the search.  A swift current and poor visibility is hampering efforts to find him.  He was not wearing his life vest.

Tonight, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission are keeping a boat at the site.  The recovery effort will resume at sunrise tomorrow.  Any additional details about the incident will be released from that agency.