UPDATE: One dead, two found alive following search for missing boaters off Taylor County coast

Weekend boating accident
Published: Jul. 17, 2022 at 3:50 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 18, 2022 at 5:45 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The search for missing boaters off the Taylor County coast during the weekend came to a tragic end. Of the three missing boaters, two were found alive while another died.

The missing boaters were found around 12:30 p.m. Sunday, the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office told WCTV. One of the two survivors was Jimmie Taylor, 61, of Perry, his daughter Ashely Taylor told WCTV’s Savannah Kelley. The two other male boaters, ages 14 and 50, were Perry residents. The 50-year-old male died in the water.

The trio had launched from Hagens Cove Saturday afternoon and were caught up in the afternoon thunderstorms after scalloping about two miles offshore.

They tried to outrun the thunderstorm, and then attempted to anchor the boat after drifting into deeper water according to TCSO. But the boat then capsized and sunk between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday. The three were adrift with life jackets in the water for hours.

A search began when family alerted authorities about the overdue trio. In addition to TCSO, the U.S. Coast Guard, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, search and rescue group G-Fast and several civilian boaters aided in the hours-long search.

One group of the civilian searchers cancelled their original scalloping plans when they heard about the missing boaters. The group later found the three missing boaters floating in the water around 12:30 p.m. Sunday nearly 17 miles northwest of Hagens Cove. They pulled them into their boat and transported them to Steinhatchee.

The 50-year-old, a grandfather of the 14-year-old on the boat, died of what appears to be natural causes, according to TCSO. The grandfather was already dead when the missing boaters were found, but they had tied themselves together so they would stay close.

The 14-year-old and Jimmie Taylor had no injuries but were hungry and dehydrated when they were finally found, according to TCSO. But, according to Ashely Taylor, the survivors suffered from gas burns and had cuts on their legs from fish biting them throughout the night.

The FWC was taking the lead on the investigation, according to TCSO. He assumes an autopsy will be performed on the 50-year-old.

Taylor County Sheriff Wayne Padgett told WCTV Monday the red air boat was not recovered. A family member of the rescued confirmed the detail on the boat, as well.

Editor’s Note: The photo caption in an earlier version of this story reported the boat as recovered. That information has since been changed as more information has come to light.

This story was also updated with additional details Monday afternoon which include the name of one of the rescued boaters.

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