Tampa Police Dive Team recovers body of missing boater

Posted at 4:01 PM, Oct 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-24 10:54:58-04

UPDATE |  Authorities have confirmed that the body recovered on Saturday from the waters off of the Courtney Campbell Causeway is the man who was reported missing from a rented boat on Friday afternoon. 

Dive teams searched Saturday morning for a man who went missing in Tampa Bay near the Courtney Campbell Causeway Boat ramp Friday afternoon. On Saturday morning, crews recovered a body near where the man went missing. 

The man has been identified as Mario Lucero Saenz, 34, of Tampa.

Saenz was in a rental boat with his fiancé when the boat hit a sandbar Friday afternoon, Tampa police said. The man jumped off the boat to push it off the sandbar, but went underwater

The boat drifted as he attempted to remain afloat, resurfacing twice. His fiancé tossed a life vest to him. However, he did not resurface a third time and his fiancé called 911.

Dive teams from several agencies responded to search for the man.

"Conditions can change fast, the water conditions, the chop, just be very careful when you are out in the water," said Officer James Boogaerts.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is leading the investigation.

ORIGINAL STORY | Tampa Police Marine and Dive units, as well as the Coast Guard and Clearwater Police Marine units responded and are actively working in a rescue capacity near the Courtney Campbell Causeway in search of an unconscious boater.

According to officials, a male was in a rental boat with another woman when the boat hit a sandbar. He jumped off the boat to push it off the sandbar, but went underwater.

"They were stuck on a sandbar and at some point they called back to the boat rental company for assistance and they said just push it off to free them which they did," Jason Penny with the Tampa Fire Department said. 

The witness on the boat said the man might have hit his head pushing the boat off the sandbar.

"He came up once and then didn't resurface," Penny said. 

The woman immediately called 911 for help. She stayed with rescuers throughout the entire search. 

Investigators with the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission said it is common for people who drive rented boats to run into sandbars during low tide.

"As is usual for rental boats some people get outside the channel and are not sure exactly where they are running water was too shallow and the boat became stuck he then got out to try and push it off," Matthew Dallarosa said. 

The woman on the boat tried to throw the man a lifejacket but he couldn't get to it in time. Two Good Samaritans on shore also heard the woman screaming for help and swam out to help, but they too couldn't reach the man in time. No names have been released.

FWC will keep one crew searching overnight.  A full search will resume first thing Saturday morning.

This is a developing story. Refresh for updates.