JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Crews are searching for a 20-year-old man after an empty boat was found Thursday morning near the Buckman Bridge.
The Coast Guard said that Jacksonville police were called just before 8 a.m. because a 30-foot commercial crabber boat was going in circles on the St. Johns River near the bridge. News4Jax later learned the call was made by an off-duty officer who spotted the boat.
The boat hit one of the pillars of the bridge, and by the time Jacksonville Fire and Rescue personnel found it, no one was aboard.
Florida wildlife officials, JSO, JFRD and Coast Guard personnel started a search and rescue effort.
They spent hours on the water and in the sky Thursday searching for the man with help from some local fishermen who say they know the young man and hope he’s found soon.
One of them said they believe the man was out on the water alone around 6 a.m. Another said fishing can be a dangerous task when done alone.
NEW VIDEO: A multi-agency search is on after a boat hit one of the pillars of the Buckman Bridge this morning. By the time Jacksonville Fire and Rescue personnel found it, no one was aboard. https://t.co/EIU7wwmllJ pic.twitter.com/2dex4mbvdI— News4JAX (@wjxt4) February 4, 2021
The investigation is now being conducted by the Coast Guard and FWC.
A spokesperson for FWC said the agency is working under the assumption that someone is in the water and they’re now searching.
As of 4 p.m., the crews had not found any debris.
Rescue vehicles on the Buckman Bridge were blocking two lanes of traffic on the westbound side Thursday morning, which caused some major delays. It’s unclear if those vehicles were there for an issue on the bridge or were part of the search and rescue operation.
Note: It was originally reported the missing man was 19 years old. The missing boater’s best friend told News4Jax he is a 20-year-old. The article has been updated to reflect that.