HOBIE BEACH (CBSMiami) — A search and rescue mission has now turned into a recovery for a paddle boarder who vanished off Hobie Beach.
Miami Fire Rescue and police boats are still doing a grid search but said the missing paddle boarder most likely drowned.
“A lot of people screaming, running around,” said one man.
Witnesses Sunday watched as the paddle boarder struggled in the water and disappeared.
“I just saw him moving his hands, so we told the guy from the rental place,” said Lourdes Basurto. “One of them was going the same way, he was next to him and in only two minutes he disappeared.”
Authorities employed divers and a helicopter, including sonar and night vision cameras, to look for the missing 20-something-year-old as the south Florida sun began to set.
Beach-goers watched and waited anxiously when the victim’s rented paddle board pulled ashore — but there was no sign of him.
“This person has all of his artifacts here,” said Miami Fire-Rescue’s Capt. Ignatius Carroll. “We understand he is not from the state of Florida and there would be no reason why he would not come back here, if he was picked up by boat or made it back to shore.”
The paddle boarder went out into the ocean without a life vest, police said. Rental company policy requires vests only if customers go past 300 feet from shore, which is about five feet deep.
“According to their policy, any time you go out in the water passed the buoy, you are required to wear a life vest,” said Capt. Carroll. “The employees gave him the board, he went out and, according to them, it seems like this person did not know how to swim and they were unaware of that.”