Body of missing canoeist surfaces

26-year-old disappeared into water early Saturday morning


ORANGE PARK, Fla. – At first light Monday a wildlife officer spotted the body of a 26-year-old man who went in to the water of an Orange Park pond early Saturday morning when a canoe he and two friends were in overturned.


Clay County officials and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission searched for 26-year-old Richmond Gard-Chambers for two days. A woman also in the canoe was able to swim to shore and a second man was rescued from the water Saturday morning.

Sunday afternoon, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office dive team arrived to assist Clay County's search and rescue teams and state wildlife officials.

Officials say heavy growth and vegetation hampered their search of the pond that adjoins the Landmark at Vista Grande apartments.

"The hydrilla is just nothing like I've ever seen in any kind of lake. The only vessel we have that is effective is the air boat that Game and Fish has provided," said Sgt. Eric Twisdale with the Clay County Sheriff's Office.

Several neighbors told Channel 4 they heard screaming at the time of the accident. Robert Land, who says he's seen kids from other neighborhoods swim in the lake says he has been concerned about it for a while.

"I've complained to management about it. They're getting some 'no swimming' signs hopefully soon. They can post those. Once they go up they can put it in the contract," said Land.