Sanibel police find the body of the missing swimmer
There was a frantic search to find a missing man, who disappeared while on a float near the Sanibel Light House less than 24 hours ago. But, the Coast Guard confirmed that a body found in the water is the missing person.
Bonita Springs Fire Control & Rescue District responded to a call for assistance in the search for a missing man, Richard Straka, on Sunday in an inner tube off Sanibel Island. Moments ago, his body was found.
The U.S. Coast Guard said they found the male body somewhere southeast of Sanibel Island in the water Monday around 3 p.m. They did not give a specific location but said that a Good Samaritan found the raft.
According to Sanibel Police Dept., Straka, 63 years old, was last seen walking toward the beach in front of 979 E. Gulf Dr.
A family member, Nancy Jacobson, told WINK News she was at the beach when she saw someone floating far offshore. She said the person was carrying the green raft Straka has on him.
“They walked from that way past us here and they kept going and then I saw,” Jacobson said. “It was in the water and I thought they were playing on it but it kept on going deeper.”
Lee County Sheriff’s Office and the USCG helped SPD search for Straka. Extensive search efforts along a 20 square mile perimeter were conducted by helicopter, drone, vessel and on the beach.
The helicopter and vessel searches were called off during the evening for safety reasons due to high wind and rough seas. The search on the beach continued throughout the night and resumed Monday morning.
Danny Blanchflower blames the rough water condition on Sunday, making it difficult for the missing man to make it back onshore.
“It was not a day you wanted to be in the water,” Blanchflower said. “No way.”
Jacobson was worried that Straka will not be found. Straka lived in Ohio and was vacationing in Sanibel Island as he typically does each year.
“I hope, I hope they find him,” Jacobson said. “This is sad.”