Body recovered in search for missing boater

- The large-scale search effort for 38 year old William Morris of Riverview ended Tuesday afternoon.  He had been out with his son on a jet ski on the Alafia River.

"He just got the jet ski a couple days ago," said neighbor Regina Rogers.

It turns out one of his first trips on the brand new ski would be his last.

"He was just going out to enjoy the day, build a sand castle and never came back," Rogers said.

Morris was with his 3 year old son at the time.  When his wife called to check on them, the young boy who answered and said this:

"That's when he said daddy's missing," recalled Rogers.

That would set off a massive search effort. His son, the Jet Ski and an adult life jacket were found on Island 75, but dad was gone.  The search went deep into Monday night and into Tuesday afternoon.

"We have located and recovered the body of a white male about a half a mile up the river from where we recovered the jet ski," said Colonel Chad Chronister with HCSO.

Deputies are calling this a tragic accident at this point but aren't sure exactly what happened. Those that knew Morris are stunned.

"It's just unreal its right across the street you never think nothing like this would happen," said neighbor Dennis Goforth.

"He's such a good person we just can't believe it," Rogers said.

Rogers says she warned him about some of the dangers of the river, perhaps it wasn't enough.

"This is the one thing I told him whether you're on island or not don't you ever take off that jacket I think that would've made a huge difference," she said.

The medical examiner will continue the investigation into the official cause of death.

Up Next:


Up Next

  • Body recovered in search for missing boater
  • Pedestrian hit and killed by Lakeland city employee
  • Lockheed Martin celebrates 20 years in Pinellas
  • Water Street project plan visuals released
  • Ybor City security guard skips court, prompting new warrant
  • Extraordinary Ordinaries: Riverside Recovery
  • Lakeland veterinarian, husband face animal cruelty charges
  • Feeling lucky? Powerball jackpot climbs to $700 million
  • North Port police seek armed kidnapping suspect
  • Woman died folllowing early morning U.S. 19 crash