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Body identified as missing boater

Search ends for man who jumped in river for swim Sunday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Nearly two days after 43-year-old James Ricks Jr. disappeared into the St. Johns River, emergency personnel pulled a body in from the water in Riverside.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokeswoman Karen Parker said authorities were awaiting a positive identification by medical examiner before continuing their investigation, and have concluded that the body is James Ricks Jr. 

A man spotted the body floating Tuesday morning and tried to stop it from drifting more.

"We seen like this little black thing floating in the water. We thought it was like a buoy," Tevin Walker said. "So we ran over here to this little boat dock thing, body floated over there. We (said), 'Oh my God, it's a body. It's a body.' We immediately called 911."

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Police cordoned off the area where the body of Ricks was found near the Haskel Building.

Officials began searching 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 said the current was still very strong in the river, and that made their efforts a little more difficult.

Officials say there's no telling what may have caused Ricks not to come back up, but they want to remind everyone that they should be mindful of the currents in the river.

"Main body of the river, they're real strong, and when the river gets funneled into a narrow spot, the current will pick up and gather steam," said FWC Lt. Tony Wright.

Officials say staying in the boat is the best bet, but those who do go in the water should wear a life vest.