Body of missing paddle boarder found off Hobie Beach

MIAMI (WSVN) - Rescue crews have recovered the body of a man who went underwater while paddleboarding off Hobie Beach, near Key Biscayne, police said.

“He was found by Miami-Dade divers,” said Miami-Dade Police Detective Argemis Colome as he addressed reporters, just after midnight, Monday.

Miami Fire Rescue said they received the call about the missing paddle boarder just before 7 p.m. on Sunday.

A woman said she witnessed the paddle boarder in distress. “He was next to the paddleboard, and I just saw him moving his hands,” said Lourdes Basurto.

“We understand that he was struggling,” said Miami Fire Rescue Capt. Ignatius Carroll. “He obviously fell off, struggling to either get back to the board or stay afloat, and that’s when several people were screaming, trying to get to him.”

Officials said the paddle boarder, a man in his 20s who was visiting from out of town, rented a paddleboard from a company on the beach.

Basurto said she alerted an employee from the rental company. “We told the guy from the rental place. One of them was going that way, the same way,” she said. “We saw him right there, next to [the paddle boarder] almost.”

Officials said the paddle boarder was not wearing a life vest at the time he fell into the water.  Employees from the rental company told fire officials that they did not realize the paddle boarder wasn’t a strong swimmer.

“They saw him with his head coming up, in and out of the water, a couple of times,” said Carroll. “By the time the rescuers from this office got out there, he was already submerged underwater.”

“In only two minutes, he disappeared,” said Basurto.

Investigators said the victim, who has yet to be identified, was on the water by himself and last seen right beside the buoys that mark deeper water. Anyone renting a paddleboard must wear a life vest past that point.

7News cameras captured a Miami Fire Rescue dive team and a Miami-Dade Police boat as they scoured the water just off the Rickenbacker Causeway.

After the sun set, crews began using sonar equipment and night vision to assist in their search. Nevertheless, visibility was limited.

The U.S. Coast Guard, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue officials also assisted in the search.

Authorities said crews located the missing man’s paddleboard and belongings. Search efforts then turned into a recovery operation, and rescue divers later located his body.

Miami-Dade Police homicide detectives have since taken over the investigation.

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