PBSO deputy, 9-year-old son among victims in Stuart boating tragedy
STUART, Fla. (WPEC) - A tragic ending to an overnight search for four missing boaters off the coast of Stuart.
This morning, Martin County Sheriff's Office discovered two bodies in the water near the St. Lucie Inlet and one more body that washed ashore on the House of Refuge Beach off MacArthur Boulevard.
While no official identifications have been made, Sheriff Snyder says "everything points to having recovered the victims of the missing Stuart boat."
Sheriff Snyder identifies one of the victims as Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office deputy Fernandas Jones, 51. He also confirms another body is that of a young boy, believed to be Jones' 9-year-old son Jaiden.
Condolences from law enforcement agencies across the state are being sent to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, the Miami Police Department and Citrus County Sheriff's Office among those sharing their thoughts of comfort.
Michelle Jones tells CBS12 her husband Fernandas went fishing with family including their son Jaiden in the Intracoastal Waterway on Sunday morning. They were accompanied by Fernandas Jones' father-in-law Willis Bell and his cousin Robert Stewart.
Stewart was the only survivor.
He told authorities that the group went fishing out in the ocean, and they were in trouble around 9 a.m. when the boat started taking on water. Stewart says the boat almost immediately sunk.
Stewart managed to get a hold of the boat saying he clung to it all night.
Rescue crews found Stewart walking along the beach Monday morning and transported him to Martin Medical Center, where he is in good condition.
According to family, the group left Sandsprit Park in Stuart around 8 a.m. in a 24-foot Sea Ray Laguna boat. Michelle added that they usually go fishing in this area.
The group was supposed to return Sunday at sunset, but Michelle never heard from her husband, son or any other family members. That's when she called authorities to report the group missing.
The U.S. Coast Guard began searching the area around 10 p.m. Sunday. Martin County, St. Lucie County, PBSO and Fish & Wildlife worked together in the search efforts into Monday morning.
Jones was a deputy with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, and previously a deputy in Miami-Dade County for 20 years.
Young Jaiden attended Frances K. Sweet Elementary, according to his aunt.
Martin County Sheriff's Office are investigating the recovery of the bodies, while Florida Fish and Wildlife will be investigating the circumstances that made the boat sink.