Body of 'beloved' missing Citrus County paddleboarder found

The body of a missing Citrus County man was found Monday afternoon, more than a day after the popular paddleboarder was spotted heading out of Hunter Springs Park.

According to the Citrus County Sheriff's Office, Josh Hensley was last seen Saturday evening, launching from the park. Deputies believe he was headed to Shell Island to watch the sunset, but he never made it; his paddleboard was found Monday morning in King's Bay near Pete's Pier.

Hensley is described as a fixture, an icon, even a celebrity around the waters of Crystal River. Ask just about anyone and they'll share a special memory about him, something bringing them a bit of comfort as they deal with the painful loss.

When he came paddling by, you knew who he was.

"It was kind like, for the kids, the ice cream truck going by," said Pat Fitzpatrick, Crystal River City Council member. "They would all run out on the dock, couldn't wait for him to walk off the back of that paddleboard and it would sink with him. Then, all of a sudden, he would rise up out of the water."

"He had the makeup on, the hair, and whole costume on," recalled Stuart Redrick. 

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"He was a staple in the community, Jack Sparrow," said Chris Doucette of Hunter Springs Kayaks. "It still doesn't feel real. I see him every day out here."

Laura Lou Fitzpatrick snapped a photo with Captain Jack and her grandson moments before he left on his last paddleboard ride. "I didn't realize how valuable that picture will be to me," she said.

Hensley built his own business, Big Foot Paddle Boards, designing boards and creating art as well. If the husband and father taught people one thing, it's to live your passion.

"Have fun doing what you love. Don't take things too seriously," Doucette said.

"He did it because he loved it. There was no other reason. He was that kind of guy," Laura Lou Fitzpatrick said.

At this point, it's unclear what happened to Hensley out there on the water. There is a memorial paddle set for this Sunday at 10 a.m. at Hunter Springs Park, followed by a Celebration of Life at 6 p.m.