ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Investigators have identified the body of a man thrown from a boat Thursday evening.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials said they found the body of 51-year-old Ernest Young Jr., of St. Augustine, about 75 yards from where he and another man had put their boat in the water in Salt Run near St. Augustine Inlet.
Investigators said Young and 65-year-old Wesley Wallace, also of St. Augustine, got in their boat from a dock behind 115 Inlet Drive about 6:30 p.m. After clearing the dock and motoring about 100 yards to the northeast of it, Young, who was operating the boat, tried to put it up on plane when it made a sudden turn to the left, investigators said.
Both men, who were seated on the starboard side of the boat, were thrown over the right side, investigators said. They said the men were heading out to go fishing, and neither was wearing a life jacket.
"Regarding why the boat may have lurched to the left, we're going to be looking into whether it may have been an equipment error, contributing factor, as opposed to just possibly operator error," said Lt. Steve Zubowsky, of FWC.
They said the boat engine shut off and both men were drifting in the water. Wallace made his way to the shore of Conch Island on Anastasia State Park, while Young was treading water, investigators said.
Two people on a personal watercrafted picked up Wallace on the beach and drove him back to the boat.
Wallace then restarted the boat but couldn't find Young, investigators said. They said he searched for about 30 minutes and the other two people called 911.
Rescuers in boats and helicopters searched the area for about four hours, and Young was found face down in about 3 feet of water about 10:45 p.m., investigators said.
"Things can happen out here so quickly, especially if you're moving fast," said Capt. Frank Timmons, of Freedom Boat Club, who's taught boating safety for years. "Three waterways come together and go out the inlet, which can be very treacherous. And most of the bad accidents in the 32 years that I've been running out of here have been around the inlet."