Victims identified in Dania Beach boating accident

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - The victims of a deadly boating accident off the coast of Dania Beach were identified as John Blout and Eric Pilgrim, two colleagues who worked as managers for local Mattress Firm stores.

“They were very good people, hardworking, decent, very family oriented. They were always with the kids and doing things with the kids — John especially,” said Hircania Bruno, Blout’s neighbor. “He was an exceptional person.”

Blout, an avid fisherman, had gone fishing with Pilgrim and another man, Thomas Rodriguez, when their boat capsized. Blout and Pilgrim were both pronounced dead at the scene, and Rodriguez was the lone survivor.

“I know him very well. He was an excellent, excellent young man. He loved his kids,” said Larry Mumford, Blout’s neighbor. “He went on boating trips. I know that him and his neighbor next door used to go out deep-sea fishing and things like that. He loved to fish.”

“He used to go fishing all the time. He was a good swimmer,” said Bruno. “I can’t believe it, I still can’t believe it.”

In the aftermath of Blout’s death, his family released a statement that said, “John was a loving and dedicated husband and father … Our family is devastated by this tragedy. We are trying to take comfort in the fact that he died doing what he loved, fishing.”

The CEO of Mattress Firm, Ken Murphy, also shared his condolences.

“We were heartbroken to learn that two of our employees passed away yesterday while boating off the coast of Fort Lauderdale. Mattress Firm is a close-knit family and this loss is felt throughout our entire company,” he said.

Mattress Firm is providing grief counseling for employees who knew Blout and Pilgrim.

Both families are planning funerals for the deceased, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation are investigating the accident.

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