Body found in St. Johns River near Buckman Bridge is missing boater, source says

Authorities have not identified the person, but a family friend says it’s missing crab trapper

JSO dive team searches St. Johns River for possible missing boater.
JSO dive team searches St. Johns River for possible missing boater. (WJXT)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Six days after the U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search for a boater who disappeared on the St. Johns River last week, a body was discovered Thursday in the water north of the Buckman Bridge.

According to a spokesperson for the FWC, the lead agency in the search, FWC and Clay County personnel recovered the body and took it to the Mulberry Cove Boat Ramp at Naval Air Station Jacksonville.

Authorities have not yet said if the body found in the river Thursday is 20-year-old Michael Vaughn III, of St. Augustine, who disappeared on the river last week. But a family friend told News4Jax it’s him.

The Coast Guard searched an area roughly the same size as Washington D.C. in the first 24 hours after Vaughn’s 30-foot recreational crab boat was found empty and stuck on the pillars of the Buckman Bridge last Thursday.

The search began when an off-duty police officer spotted the boat spinning aimlessly in a circle in the St. Johns River just before 8 a.m.

Minutes later, it crashed into the bridge.

Friends told News4Jax that Vaughn had worked with his dad on a crab boat since he was 8 years old and took the lead role in the family business when his dad had to deal with medical issues.


About the Authors: