First responders suspend search for missing swimmer, recovery efforts begin

Published: November 27, 2021 6:32 PM EST
Updated: November 28, 2021 2:47 PM EST

Greater Naples Fire Rescue, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, Naples Fire-Rescue, and Marco Island Fire Rescue were all searching for a missing swimmer in Naples. Naples Fire Rescue says this has since turned into a recovery mission and the case has been turned over to the Naples Police Department.

Naples police have identified the swimmer as Matthew Britton. He was last seen wearing a black tank top and black and grey camouflage shorts.

Matthew Britton (Credit: Naples Police Department)

This is near 21st Ave Beach and Gordon Drive in Naples.

Fire crews say they have deployed boats, divers, and helicopters to assist with the search. They believe he may be in the Gulf of Mexico.

A witness, spending her day at Naples Beach, saw crews searching for the swimmer.

As a helicopter circled above, other crews scoured the waters below. Victoria Penn saw the search as it unfolded.”It was obvious and evident to all of us that someone had gone under,” said Penn.

Penn was able to capture images and video of the search s it was happening. She says divers went straight to the Gulf. “I used my binoculars, and we were all at the water’s edge just like looking  to see if we could see anybody in the water.”

That dive team was deployed to find the missing swimmer. “He must have went in at least three or four times, four or five times. And, he was even tethered to a rope because of the current and because he couldn’t see,” said Penn.

According to Penn, the conditions made this search a bit difficult. “It wasn’t deep, but there were currents, and it was very windy today,” she said.

WINK News did reach out to Greater Naples Fire for an update on the search, but we have not yet heard back.