Bartow man drowns after boat capsizes in Mulberry pond, Polk deputies say

A Bartow man drowned after a small boat capsized in a Mulberry pond Wednesday, deputies said.

According to the Polk County Sheriff's Office, 62-year-old Bruce Morgan and 50-year-old William Franklin were fishing in an aluminum boat when they both fell into the water.

Franklin was able to swim to shore, telling deputies that he tried to help Morgan but couldn't save him because he had become entangled in thick underwater vegetation, according to the sheriff's office.

Polk Sheriff Grady Judd called Morgan's drowning a tragedy.

"What makes this drowning more tragic is that it could have been avoided with the required safety equipment such as life jackets or flotation devices," Judd said.

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Deputies and Polk County Fire Rescue were dispatched to the pond, located north of Arnaz Drive, around 4:45 p.m. Wednesday. Polk County Sheriff’s Office Underwater Search and Rescue Team divers recovered Morgan's body just before 9 p.m.

"I cannot stress enough how important it is for each person on a watercraft to have some sort of safety equipment to help keep them afloat in situations like this," added Sheriff Judd.