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Man drowns in Cocoa pond while trying to save girlfriend

Drowning considered an accident

COCOA, Fla. – The search for a missing swimmer in a pond off Crestview Drive ended tragically Thursday morning.

Police said divers found the man's body hours after a possible drowning was reported around 10 p.m. Wednesday at Bracco Pond Park.

Police were notified by Rhonda Jaeger, who said her boyfriend jumped in the water to rescue her while she was struggling to swim across the pond.

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"Leroy went in the water, I guess, to try and help me and he didn't make it," Jaeger said.

She said her boyfriend, herself and another man who is also homeless, split a six-pack of beer and decided to try swimming across the pond. 

Jaeger said when she started struggling, her boyfriend went in to save her.

Jaeger said she made it across safely, but when she started feeling relief, she realized he never made it across.

No one had a phone so Jaeger said she ran to flag down a Cocoa police car as it was passing by.

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"They spent a few hours and ended up finding him in the pond," Yvonne Martinez with Cocoa police said about divers who searched the water.

Jaeger said she and her boyfriend had been together since 2015 and she never noticed the "no swimming" signs around the park.

"That's all we can do is put the signs out there. We can't prevent people from making bad choices," Martinez said.

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Police consider the drowning an accident, therefore, no charges will be filed.

The boyfriend drowning while attempting a rescue is a contrast to how another man drowned at another pond in the same park last summer.

In the final moments of his life, police said Jamel Dunn was laughed at, made fun of and taunted.

Police said the 32-year-old drowned because teenagers who could have called for help did nothing besides recording his death on a phone.

In the latest drowning, the man who thought he was coming to the rescue lost his life.


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