NewsCitrus, Hernando County


Florida paddleboarder found dead after going missing Saturday

Posted at 10:59 AM, Sep 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-16 17:10:32-04

Deputies found a Florida paddleboarder dead after he went missing Saturday in Citrus County.

Joshua Grant Hensley, 43, was last seen by park rangers at 6:30 p.m. Saturday as he launched his paddle board at Hunter Springs Park.

“I could’t believe it because I had just seen him Saturday night. So it was really, really hard," said Jami Moriarty. She's a manager at Cracker's, a frequent haunt for Hensley.

He's known in his Crystal River community as "Captain Jack" for the infamous Pirates of the Caribbean character. Those who knew him said he would dress up and perform tricks like handstands and pyrotechnics on the paddleboard often taking pictures for children and families along the waters. Hensley was also a paddleboard designer and tour-guide under his business Big Foot Paddle Boards LLC.

He was wearing brown, colonial style pants, a brown and white jacket, and a brown bandanna. Authorities believe he was taking his paddle board out to Shell Island to watch the sunset.

Deputies didn't find any evidence indicating Hensley made it to Shell Island; however, his paddle board was found by deputies Monday morning in King’s Bay near Pete’s Pier. Park Rangers contacted Citrus County Sheriff's Office at 9 p.m. Sunday after growing concerned that Henley's vehicle had remained in the parking lot overnight.

“I would hate for it to happen to anybody. It stinks that it happened to him," said Captain Zac Zachry.

Zachry volunteered to search for him. Just an hour after starting up his boat he saw Hensley's body.

“You are sad about it. You’ve seen him around. It’s unfortunate he’s got kids. He’s got a family. He seemed to be a really really nice person. Genuine," he said.

CCSO's aviation and marine units were deployed to search for Hensley, but he was ultimately found deceased in the waters of King's Bay in Crystal River.

"We offer our deepest condolences to Joshua's family and friends in this difficult time," Citrus County Sheriff's Office said in a statement. "'Captain Jack' was a beloved figure in the community and will be missed."