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3 bodies, 1 survivor found after boat sank off Florida coast

1 victim was a Palm Beach County deputy sheriff

Fernandas Jones, Jaden Jones, Willis Bell, Robert Stewart went boating Sunday.
Fernandas Jones, Jaden Jones, Willis Bell, Robert Stewart went boating Sunday.

STUART, Fla. – The only person who survived after a boat carrying four people capsized off the coast of South Florida sunk Sunday morning clung to the vessel overnight, according to Martin County Sheriff William Snyder.

Robert Stewart, 45, was taken to a hospital Monday after he was found walking on a beach. He is listed in critical condition, but sheriff's office video shows him walking off a rescue helicopter.

The bodies of two adults and a child were recovered Monday.  Officials identified them as 51-year-old Palm Beach County Deputy Sheriff Fernandas Jones, his 9-year-old son Jayden Jones and Willis Bell. Bell's age wasn't immediately available.

The group's 24-foot Sea Ray boat capsized shortly after leaving Stuart about 8 a.m. Sunday. There was a small-craft advisory with winds above 20 mph causing choppy seas.

Michelle Jones told WPBF-TV that her husband, Fernandes, 9-year-old son Jaden, Willis Bell and Robert Stewart left Sunday morning on a 24-foot SeaRay boat from Sandsprit Park in Stuart.

She called the Coast Guard Sunday around 10 p.m. when they failed to return. She said they usually fish just offshore near Stuart or in the Intracoastal Waterway.

Authorities said the lone survivor clung to the boat, which began taking on water about 9 a.m. That person, who was not identified, was taken to Martin Memorial Hospital.

Martin County, Palm Beach County resources, the Florida Wildlife and Fish Commission and the U.S. Coast Guard were all involved in the search for the missing boat.

Stuart is on the Atlantic Coast, north of West Palm Beach.