WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — The bodies of two boaters who vanished Saturday while boating on Lake Eloise in Winter Haven were recovered Monday afternoon.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said search teams discovered the body of Jeffrey Marrero at about 1:30 p.m. about 16 feet beneath the water’s surface some 300 to 400 feet offshore.
Two hours later, they discovered the body of Orlando Ortiz about 150 feet away. The search lasted almost 48 hours.
“I’m pleased that we found these folks,” Judd said. “I’m very sorry that we didn’t find them alive, but we didn’t anticipate we would.”
The Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, which used its underwater drone as part of the search.
Judd said Ortiz and his girlfriend had rented a boat to celebrate their anniversary, bringing along Merarro and his daughters along for the ride.
He said Ortiz’s girlfriend jumped into the water with the anchor while trying to anchor the boat in the middle of the lake.
The rope that was secured to the anchor was not secured to the boat for some reason, Judd said.
He said that the woman struggled in the water, so Ortiz and Marrero jumped into the water to help her, but she was the only one to surface.
“It’s a tragedy of monumental proportions,” Judd said.
Watch his full news conference below:
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