Citrus County fire training captain dies in Fourth of July boat crash in Crystal River

A training captain with Citrus County Fire Rescue died Thursday evening after an off-duty boat crash in Crystal River, officials said. 

The department said Michael Fletcher, 42, died after the boating incident on the Fourth of July. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) said a boat crashed into Fletcher's vessel just before 11 p.m. on Thursday. 

That's when investigators said Fletcher was thrown from his boat. He was later recovered from the water dead, FWC officials said. Divers with the Citrus County Sheriff's Office responded to the area, and boaters were asked to use extreme caution if they were nearby. 

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"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim’s family and friends during this difficult time," the FWC said in a statement. "This is an active investigation."

CCFR officials said Fletcher had served six years with the department and about 20 years with Marion County Fire Rescue. They said he was an exceptional leader in training CCFR's firefighters.

Pictured: Michael Fletcher. Courtesy: Citrus County Fire Rescue. 

"Captain Michael Fletcher was a pillar of our department, known for his dedication and compassion," said Citrus County Fire Chief Craig Stevens. "His loss is deeply felt by all who had the privilege of working alongside him."

Citrus County Administrator Steve Howard also released a statement about Fletcher's death, saying in part, "I extend my deepest and utmost condolences to Captain Fletcher’s family, and to each member of Citrus County Fire Rescue on the loss of a brother."

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