JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The search for a missing boater came to a tragic end Friday, two days after his boat capsized near the Buckman Bridge, authorities told News4Jax.
Shortly after 4 p.m., both the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the body of 84-year-old Walter Williams had been recovered.
Wilson Smith, a friend who had known him nearly his entire life told News4Jax that Williams was a former Jacksonville city councilman and a Lee High School graduate.
Smith said he and Williams were friends for 65 years.
“Walter would do anything for anybody. He was quite a gentleman,” Smith said. “I was devastated and so have our classmates been.”
According to a News4Jax story from 2018, Williams was part of the first Jacksonville City Council to operate under the new consolidated government.
Smith says Williams ran a successful real estate business, Walter Williams Reality.
“He loved Jacksonville," Smith said. "I will just miss that friendship of 65 years, and that’s hard to replace.”
Authorities were called to the Buckman shortly before 5 p.m. Wednesday after a 27-foot boat belonging to Williams capsized, according to FWC. There was no sign of Williams when rescuers arrived, and divers from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and FWC were unable to locate him using sonar equipment.
Williams' family told investigators he was driving his boat home that day after visiting a local marine mechanic to have the vessel serviced, according to FWC’s accident report.
Smith said his thoughts and prayers are with the Williams family.