Body found in search for missing man in Lake Jesup airboat accident

2 killed, 3 treated after airboat hit bridge under SR 417, officials say

OVIEDO, Fla. – Authorities have identified a missing boater and a passenger who died in an airboat accident on Lake Jesup.

Officials said Monday morning they found a body in the search for one of the boaters involved in the fatal airboat accident that happened Sunday evening.

Two people are dead and three people were treated after the airboat struck an overhead portion of State Road 417 bridge near its south end, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The missing boater has been identified as the airboat operator, 51-year-old Mark Anthony Cruz, of Mims. Authorities said the passenger who died in accident was 47-year-old Joel Thomas Arnold, of Orlando.

Officials said two people were taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center and one person refused further treatment.

FWC officials had continued the search Monday morning for the missing boater.

"We have dive teams in the water, in the immediate area where the accident occurred; and we also have air units on the way for surface waters," said Byron Smith of FWC. "Overnight we did a continued search for the person the surface waters, fog was pretty heavy last night so we didn't get to continue the area so it will resume today."


Authorities aren't sure how the accident happened and no other boats were involved.

Seminole County used boats with sonar technology to search under the surface of the water, but rescue crews hoped the sunlight would help their mission.

"We're in a recovery operation right now in the dark. You can't see that far in the lake as it is," said Sam Thurmond, Seminole County Battalion Chief.

The average depth of the lake is 6 to 8 feet.

"Lake Jesup is known for being shallow and therefore any wind, vessel traffic, such as that, it stirs it up and it's always murky, so it's tough to see down there," said Smith.

Boaters tell Local 6 the bridge can be dangerous, especially if boats don't slow down.

"If you're going fast, you can't get through there without hitting the second piling, and I think myself, they need to put a sign on it, 10 mile an hour or something," said Gerald Young, who has been fishing on Lake Jesup for more than a decade.

Oviedo Fire Rescue officials said the boating accident caused traffic delays on the State Road 417 bridge for rescue operations.

A crash involving an unoccupied Seminole County Sheriff's Office vehicle on SR 417 was related to the boating incident. One person was taken to the hospital in that crash with unknown injuries.

[RELATED: 1 hurt in crash involving empty patrol car | Local 6 Timesaver Traffic]

Watch Local 6 News and stay with ClickOrlando.com for updates on this developing story.

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