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Florida Deputy and Young Son Die in Boat Accident

April 12, 2016  | 

As waves crashed against the submerged boat, the fishermen slipped off one by one into the sea.

The first to let go was Willis Bell, 70. His stepson, Fernandas Jones, 51, a Navy veteran, a Palm Beach County Sheriff's deputy, and father, was the next. Jones' son, Jayden, who was only 9, was the last to be lost — despite a desperate attempt by the only survivor, Jones' cousin Robert Stewart, 45, to keep the boy alive.

The three died after a Sunday fishing trip off Stuart turned tragic when Jones' 24-foot center console Sea Ray boat took on water and sank amid rough waves estimated to have been between four and six feet high.

Nearly 24 hours later, Stewart washed ashore on Monday morning, exhausted, signaling for help to a helicopter overhead, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Officials said the foursome, who all lived in Port St. Lucie, planned a fishing trip Sunday, leaving from Sandsprit Park in Stuart at about 8 a.m. Someone on board made a phone call sometime after taking off and before anchoring in 80 feet of water at about 9 a.m. but for reasons that were not yet clear, did not report they were in distress, Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said.

Comments (3)

Displaying 1 - 3 of 3

kevCopAz @ 4/12/2016 6:36 PM

Tragic. Does not mention anything about life jackets, did they have them, if so what happened? Seems that they should have been able to remain afloat for some time. I fear that they ignored the law and didn't have them or perhaps no time to put them on. Either way a 9 year old should have been wearing a jacket the entire time that he was on that boat. tragic, sad event.

Trigger @ 4/13/2016 4:27 AM

I have been involved in too many rescues and recoveries where PFD's were not worn. This is a very sad and unfortuante event, hopefully others will learn by it.

Wohali @ 4/14/2016 8:29 AM

I have been following this story form the beginning and nothing makes sense. The PFDs are the most important question not being answered. They had plenty of time to don them, they were only two miles from shore, although it was a small craft advisory it was a beautiful day other wise, at 0900 on a Sunday there would have been very heavy boating traffic that would have seen distress signals. With PFDs and huddled together they could easily make the two mile swim to shore, water temp. was 73 degrees.

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