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Missing Canadian man found dead in Hernando County

Richard Joseph Adolphe Paquet Hernando SO 2.png
Posted at 10:30 AM, May 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-06 10:38:58-04

BROOKSVILLE, Fla. — The Hernando County Sheriff's Office said a missing 74-year-old Canadian man was found dead on Friday morning after he was last seen late Tuesday night.

Sheriff Al Nienhuis said in a video on Facebook that authorities don't suspect foul play in Richard Paquet's death.

Nienhuis said on Wednesday bloodhounds tracked to a seawall and dive teams were brought in to search the area.

"As time went on during the day, we realized it was probably more of a recovery mission if he had actually fallen into the water," Nienhuis said. "We were not able to find him on Wednesday or yesterday (Thursday)."

Cadaver dogs were brought in on Friday morning and alerted to an area near the seawall. Nienhuis said Paquet's body was found before divers were able to get into the water and his body had since been recovered.

Deputies, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the U.S. Coast Guard used drones, K-9 teams, boats, dive teams, and planes in their attempt to locate Paquet.

He and his wife had recently arrived in Florida from Nova Scotia, Canada. Law enforcement said Paquet was driving with his wife when they were in a minor traffic crash Tuesday in Brooksville. Deputies said Paquet and his wife were not injured and were able to later drive from the scene.

Nienhuis said on Tuesday, following the minor accident in Brooksville, deputies did have other interactions with Paquet. Nienhuis said deputies interacted with Paquet around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in Hernando Beach.

"Again, we checked and he did not meet the criteria for Baker Act and everything seemed fine," Nienhuis said.

However, Nienhuis said later on Tuesday, around 10:30 p.m., witnesses reported that Paquet was acting "much more irrational" but deputies were not called.

Investigators said later that night Paquet parked his van in a driveway on the 4000 block of Companero Entra in Hernando Beach. The owners of the home didn't know the Paquets and contacted the sheriff's department when they saw the van in the morning.

When investigators arrived, they talked to Paquet's wife who said the couple stopped there to sleep. She said Paquet was still in the van when she went to sleep before midnight but was gone when she woke up.

"We believe that there was some sort of medical episode that may have resulted in him leaving the van and making his way to the seawall and eventually falling in," Nienhuis said.

Family members investigators spoke to said Paquet had no medical or mental health issues before driving to Florida.

The medical examiner will determine the exact cause of death.