Searchers early Monday found the body of a New York man who jumped off a rental boat near Key Biscayne to try to free a stuck anchor.
Using a GPS tracking system on the rental vessel to narrow the search area and underwater sonar, a Miami-Dade police boat helped direct divers to the body of 31-year-old Paul Flowers, who went missing Sunday evening, said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Lorenzo Veloz.
“Instead of being a joyous time, it’s a very sad time,” Veloz said.
Flowers, who was from Harlem, New York, lived in West Palm Beach and worked for a marketing company. He was one of 16 people who went out on two 22-foot rental boats Sunday. They anchored up near popular Nixon Beach. By the afternoon, heavy squalls moved in.
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One of the boat’s anchors got stuck on rocks. Flowers, who was not wearing a life vest, and another man jumped in to help free the boat. One man was pulled back on board with the help of a rope, but Flowers could not be found.
Samantha Tavender, a friend of Flowers, said in an e-mail that he was “so selfless he did everything to better his life and his friends and family life.”
The FWC, Coast Guard, the city of Miami and Miami-Dade responded and began to search. They recovered his body at about 1 a.m. — about five hours after his disappearance.
Veloz said the bad weather likely played a roll in Flowers’ death.
“Mother nature has the upper hand,” he said.
Flowers’ friends began a GoFundMe page to help his family with expenses. As of Tuesday they raised more than $25,000.
“We are trying to raise funds to support his family through this difficult time,” Tavender said.
This story was updated with more information from those who knew Flowers.