Missing boater identified as Navy Chief Petty Officer Kenneth Gates

- The identity of a missing boater and the woman who was with him when he disappeared into the water were revealed by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office Thursday. 

Deputies said the missing man is 32-year-old, Chief Petty Officer Kenneth Reginald Gates. He was on the boat with 38-year-old Kearston Jones. 

According to a release from U.S. Special Operations Command, Chief Gates was a 10-year veteran of the U.S. Navy. He moved to Tampa in 2015 to serve in the Navy element’s human resources office, Force Management Division. He was originally from Lawrenceville, Georgia.

Officials initially reported Gates was on a boat with his mother, but later said that was not the case. 

HCSO suspended the search and rescue for Gates on the afternoon of Thursday, April 21. He went missing around 9 a.m. Tuesday, April 19, after launching a 19-foot fishing boat from the boat ramp on MacDill AFB. 

Officers said they anchored the boat in about 20-30 feet of water, about two miles west of Bahia Beach. They fished until about 11:30 am before moving to another spot, where their anchor reportedly got stuck. 

Gates apparently tried to dive to the anchor and pull it loose, but after a second attempt, he never resurfaced.

HCSO said the incident appeared accidental and no foul play was suspected, however deputies will continue to investigate.

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