Winter Haven, Florida (WFLA) — Two boaters are still missing on Sunday following an incident on Lake Eloise in Winter Haven, Fla., on Saturday, sources said.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said the incident came after an anchor accident that saw Velcky Velasquez, 38, and Orlando Ortiz, 32, celebrate their one-year anniversary by renting a boat for the afternoon.
The couple, who were said to be inexperienced in boating and had to be trained beforehand, also brought along their friend Jeffrey Marrero and their two children, ages 10 and 8.
“It’s been a rough day on the water,” said Judd. “It’s blowing about 20 mph. It’s a breezy afternoon with his two-foot chop in a white hat.”
Despite the rough seas, the group decides to anchor in the middle of the lake. According to the sheriff, Velázquez jumped into the water with an anchor, although he had not tied the anchor to the boat beforehand.
“She’s very inexperienced, so she thinks she has to get in the water, put the anchor in, and tie it to the boat,” said Judd.
It was at this point that the boat began to float, and Velázquez began to struggle, so Ortiz and Marrero jumped in to help.
But the sheriff said three sailors tried to return to the ship but were unable to catch up with it. Velasquez had a problem, but her partner and her friend had a problem.
“Miss Velasquez said [saw] They have a hard time staying around the water,” said Judd.
Marrero’s 10-year-old managed to call 911 and inform law enforcement of the situation. Judd said the whole incident happened in front of the children.
“A 10-year-old girl is essentially responsible for us saving one woman,” the sheriff said.
Responding agents were able to obtain help from fishermen on the scene to locate the victim, which led to the rescue of Velázquez.
However, Marrero’s boat with two children ended up in the wetlands of the lake. A surrogate was able to reach the children.
According to Judd, the two missing men are believed to have drowned.
PCSO Marines are working with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office to search for the man’s remains.
Judd said first responders won’t end the search until the body is found.
“I wouldn’t let my loved ones stay in the lake, and they would show up in the lake the next morning,” he said. “There was. We are involved. We are looking for these two missing gentlemen of his, like our brothers and children.”
He said the man could be at the bottom of the lake, 16 feet deep in some parts, or elsewhere.
“If you can’t find them in the meantime, they’ll eventually float,” he said.
The lake is next to Legoland, but the theme park issued a statement saying the incident did not occur at its attraction.
There was a boating accident on Lake Eloise yesterday. Although the incident did not occur at one of our attractions and has nothing to do with us, our staff have provided comfort to the family and the hotel boardwalk has been used as a command center. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time. Contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office for more information.
Legoland Florida Resort
The sheriff praised the resort for assisting with the search and recovery effort, even though he was not involved in the incident.
“Legoland couldn’t have been a better community partner,” says Judd.
https://www.wkrg.com/state-regional/florida/anchor-mishap-led-to-possible-double-drowning-on-florida-lake-sheriff-says/ Anchor accident led to possible double drowning in Florida lake, sheriff says