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.
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.