STUART, Fla. (CBS12) — What was supposed to be a fun day on the water ended in tears.
Martin County deputies say 22-year-old Utah man Maxwell Roberts, who had been staying in Vero Beach, was one of four people on a boat near the Evinrude Rocks, located about 2.5 miles from Sandsprit Park, just beyond the St. Lucie Inlet.
Roberts free-dove out of the boat with a spear gun, just before eleven Friday morning. He never resurfaced.
“Our dive team described to us that the deceased was at the bottom, looked like he had been spear fishing," Martin County Chief Deputy John Budensiek revealed. "The spear gun that he had been using was deployed, so the string in the spear was out, and he had just not made it back up to the surface."
Several boats, divers and a helicopter spent hours searching for Roberts, until about 1 p.m. - when crews found his body.
Locals in Sandsprit Park saw the quick response from rescue crews.
“Put the pedal to the metal and went right out the inlet," Nancyann Taylor recalled of the MCSO Marine Units she witnessed. "Then another one, two came from that way and then another boat came from that way, and then all of a sudden, we hear a helicopter in the distance and he came over, and we went ‘ugh, something really happened bad.”
Though Chief Deputy Budensiek says this isn’t how deputies hoped this search would end, he says foul play isn’t suspected.
“We’re kind of working off the theory that he might’ve gotten caught up in the moment of chasing a fish and he just didn’t get back up to the surface in time," he told CBS12 News Friday. "These individuals are young, fit males that know what they’re doing but this appears to be a freak accident.”
We're told an autopsy will be done to clear up any unknown details in this tragedy.