Deputies searching Braden River for man who vanished after saying he ‘didn’t want to be arrested’

Deputies are searching for a possible trespasser who may have drowned in Bradenton on Friday. 

Manatee County deputies responded Friday morning to Marshall's Landing, located in the 5400 block of 56th Court East to investigate a trespass complaint.

After arriving on scene, they received another report of a man screaming while walking in the woods on a small island in Braden River.

Deputies said the man was in waist-deep water, wading behind homes off 56th Court East.

"It was terrible watching it because I can’t do anything and you see somebody out there that’s in really bad trouble," said Michael Reeves.

The yell for help caught Reeves’ attention.  

"I see somebody floating in the water. He seemed to have some bits and pieces that he was holding onto. He yelled out, ‘Help me. Help me. For God’s sake help me,’" Reeves stated.

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According to deputies, the man is in his late 30s. Deputies said they encouraged him to get out of the water and swim to a nearby dock.

"They're responding to this trespass call, they’re making eye contact with him. They’re doing everything they can to encourage him to get out of the water," said Randy Warren with the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies said the man-made statements about not wanting to be arrested. Deputies believe they know who he is, but are unable to confirm his identity.

"He did mention that he didn’t want to go to jail. He said that multiple times. Deputies kept encouraging him don’t worry about that. Just get over here. Let’s get you some water and out of the water. There are gators in here. It’s not safe for him," said Warren.

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As deputies got ready to get into the water to help, they say he disappeared under the water.

"He did not seem to be in distress, right up to the point where he said there’s a current help. And that’s the last communication we had with him," said Warren.

Deputies said they can't rule out the possibility that the man resurfaced somewhere else along the river. 

The incident is under investigation.