43-year-old Jacksonville boater still missing

Search continues for man who jumped in river for swim Sunday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Twenty-four hours after 43-year-old James Ricks Jr. disappeared into the St. Johns River, the search operation continued on the river.

"We have GPS on the boats to see our last positions. We're kind of searching different areas. A lot depends on the current and if the person drifts," said Lt. Paul Arkin, of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Officials said their search started Sunday afternoon after Ricks stopped his boat near the Fuller Warren Bridge and jumped in the river for a swim. His companions threw a line out to him, but Ricks never resurfaced, officials said.

Searchers were going in circles Monday, looking for breaks in the water for any indication of where Ricks may be. But they said the current was still very strong in the river, and that can make their efforts a little more difficult.

Officials said there's no telling how far the current may have carried Ricks down the river. FWC crews have alerted other boat patrols in neighboring counties to be on the lookout.

"We've also put notifications out to the adjoining regions and dispatch centers that also have units patrolling the St. Johns River and other counties, such as St. Johns and Clay," Arkin said.

Officials said they hope to have answers soon, and they're still holding out hope. In the meantime, they urge other boaters to be safe in the water this boating season.

"We also recommend everybody out on the river to use their safety equipment, their life jackets, their fire extinguishers, all devices to prevent accidents to assist if something does happen," Arkin said.