Man dead after water scooter accident along Little Manatee River

- A 65-year-old man is dead after an accident on a personal watercraft. Stunned family members waited at the Domino Boat Ramp in Ruskin as the man’s body was pulled from the Little Manatee River near U.S. 41 shortly after 2 o'clock on Wednesday

"When you go for a fun day on the water with your Jetski and your dog, nobody in your family thinks that is going to be the last time they see you," said FWC Maj. Roger Young.

FWC recovered the man's white and blue personal watercraft. 

At around 11 a.m, witnesses say the man was near the bridge of U.S. 41 when he and his dog fell off.  While the man slipped under, the dog swam at least 50 feet to shore.

"Our officer saw the dog in the mangroves, pretty cut up from the barnacles and mangroves, and was able to get in and rescue him," said Young.

FWC can't immediately say what killed the man. They didn't find any sign he crashed into the bridge nearby. But they do say he wasn't wearing a life vest.

"Wearing a life jacket saves lives. Period," said Young. "The operator was not wearing a personal flotation device, which we believe led to the fatality in this case."

The body was removed by the medical examiner, who will determine the exact cause of death.

"We strongly stress that everybody operating this Fourth of July, we want everyone to have a safe day on the water," said Young. "Please if you have a life jacket available to wear, please wear one. Life jackets do save lives."

FWC says they will investigate whether things like alcohol or a medical issue played a role in this. 

His identity has not been released by FWC.

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