JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Wildlife officers investigating the drowning death of a 17-year-old boy who went overboard while casting a net in the St. Johns River early Thursday have identified the victim as Adam Rosier Jr.
Rosier disappeared while fishing for mullet with his uncle in the river south of the Fuller Warren Bridge. FWC said Rosier never surfaced.
His body was found by a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office dive team hours later not far from where he went in the water.
"Our hearts break for the family. It's a horrific thing to lose a loved one. Prayers to the family," Florida Fish and Wildlife Lt. Paul Arkin said.
A friend of Rosier's family told News4Jax that Rosier was a hard worker and loved to be on the water.
Jacksonville Fire and Rescue spokesman Tom Francis said Rosier and his uncle left the Arlington area on a 12-foot boat and were standing in the boat anchored near a dock in the Miramar area. The uncle told officials Rosier was throwing a 20-pound cast net when he went into the water about 7:20 a.m.
"He possibly got caught up in the net as he was throwing it and fell overboard," Arkin said.
Russell Tomlinson, an avid fisherman, said he uses cast nets a lot and they can be very dangerous.
"If you're casting a net and you tie that thing around your hand, you have a chance, if the net gets caught on something, that it takes you with it," Tomlinson said. "Now there's a loop on the end of the rope, and if you just loop that through there you can flip your hand out very easily."
He said one rule of thumb is to not even tie the rope around your hand, because it could tighten and make it difficult to get off.
"Keep it loose so the thing is, if you get it on something, you just let it go," Tomlinson said.
Rosier's body was found about 20 yards from the dock using side-scan sonar equipment, Arkin said.
"Anytime an incident like this happens -- it doesn't necessarily need to be water-related or a boat accident, in this case it was -- but anytime a young man loses his life it's a tragedy and my heart goes out to the family," Arkin said.
Arkin said the family told FWC investigators Rosier was a good swimmer.
JFRD, FWC, the Navy and other agencies were involved in the search. FWC is the lead agency investigating all boating accidents in Florida waterways.
FWC is investigating whether Rosier was wearing a life vest.
FWC officials said boaters have to have enough life jackets on board for all the people on the boat, but they don't have to necessarily wear a life vest, unless they're 6 years old or younger.
If the boat is 16 feet or longer, it needs to have a throwable device, like a throw ring or cushion and needs to have a fire extinguisher and a horn or whistle.
It's also a good idea to have a kill switch, officials said. It attaches to a life vest, and if the boater falls overboard, it kills the engine.