Body of missing teen found after canoe overturns, St. Johns County sheriff says

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – The body of a missing 16-year-old boy was located Monday after the teen disappeared Sunday when a canoe overturned, authorities said.

The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office identified the teen as Riley Teixeira.

“This is not what we wanted. We were hoping to find Riley, but we can give some closure to the Teixeira family today,” St. Johns County Sheriff Rob Hardwick said at a news conference Monday afternoon.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, the recovery was made in the area where Teixeira and two other boys went into Julington Creek on Sunday evening.

The Sheriff’s Office said it received a call just before 8 p.m. Sunday that Teixeira was missing after the canoe that he and two other boys were in overturned. The two other boys swam about 600 feet to a dock and told the homeowner what happened, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

A search ensued, and shortly before noon Monday, the Sheriff’s Office announced the search area was expanded as authorities continued with large-scale air and marine search efforts. The area included St. Johns, Duval and Clay counties, stretching from just north of the Buckman Bridge south past Julington Creek and encompassing the entire width of the river.

About 1:30 p.m., Hardwick said, the teen’s body was located in 6 to 8 feet of water. His family was notified, the sheriff said.

St. Johns County Fire Rescue, the United States Coast Guard, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, the St. Augustine City Fire Department, the St. Augustine Police Department and FWC assisted the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office in the search.

The body of a missing 16-year-old boy was located Monday after the teen disappeared Sunday when a canoe overturned, authorities said.

Crews were congregating at Mandarin Park and launching from there.

News4JAX spoke with Cade Werle, a ninth grade student at Creekside High School, who heard the news and came out to try to help search for the teen, who Werle said was a Creekside High student.

“My dad was searching last night for it, and we were planning to go out and fish, but change of plans — we’re going to come help search and do what we can,” Werle said. “Don’t really have a plan. We know, like, the general area. We have our depth finder and sonar so we can see but just seeing what we can do.”

Rescue crews were using sonar to detect anything underwater. An FWC crew told News4JAX that three FWC boats with sonar were focusing on a localized spot near the entrance to Julington Creek.

News4JAX traveled on the waters on Marine 4 with Mark Vickers, general manager of Freedom Boat Club, who said the water is not deep but hard to see through.

“Anywhere in this area, you’ll be between 8 and 15 feet,” Vickers said. “It’s very murky.”

Drones were also involved in the search.

While it’s unclear how the canoe overturned, people who are familiar with the area of the river say parts of the waterway can be hazardous.

“Even without currents, you got wind making waves and making things choppy,” said Reed Danielson, a boater. “A canoe is a small boat. Anything can happen on a small boat. You have to be safer on a smaller craft. I’ve got a jon boat and that’s hard to flip, but canoes are dangerous in deep water.”

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The boys went out in the Pelican canoe to have fun, and it was just a horrible accident, Hardwick said.

“It breaks my heart that someone died coming out here to do a good thing and have a good time,” Danielson said.

At Monday’s news conference, neither the sheriff nor the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission would get into the details of how the canoe overturned. They would also not say if the two boys who made it to the dock were wearing vests. The names of those boys are not being released.

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