MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. – A man's body was found in a Merritt Island retention pond Friday morning in an area where authorities had searched for a person reported missing earlier this week, the Brevard County Sheriff's Office said.
The body was found near the H&D Roadhouse in the 1800 block of East Merritt Island Causeway, sheriff's spokesman Tod Goodyear said.
Deputies had searched that area for 45-year-old Richard G. "Chad" Stevens of Merritt Island.
Friday, Stevens' family and friends were seen grieving and praying in the parking lot of the bar.
Robert Stevens, Chad's father, told News 6 the body found was his son's.
"A light has gone out, a beautiful light," Stevens said of his son.
"Everybody who knew him loved him," added Dierdre Hicks, a friend. "He was so well-loved. Keep the family in your thoughts and prayers."
The Sheriff's Office had not positively identified Stevens as of 5 p.m. Friday.
No preliminary cause of death was released but the Stevens family told News 6 they believe the death was accidental.
"Chad had a heart as big as gold," said Hicks. "He would have given you the shirt right off of his back. He was an exceptional human being, extremely smart."
The Sheriff's Office was contacted Wednesday about Stevens' disappearance, Goodyear said. Stevens had been at H&D Roadhouse prior to his disappearance and left his phone there, the Sheriff's Office said.
Though authorities had searched the area for Stevens, the body found Friday may have been submerged at the time, Goodyear said.
"It appears that he was under the water and surfaced because there was some debris on his back that came up with him that was probably covering him at one point," the BCSO spokesperson said.
Deputies Friday told News 6 autopsy results will be obtained before releasing the cause of death.