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STUART (CBSMiami) — The survivor of a tragic boating accident spoke out a day after he was found walking on the beach – the only one left alive.
Robert Stewart had gone out fishing with his family – Palm Beach County Deputy Fernandez Jones, his son 9-year-old Jayden and Jones’ stepfather Willis Bell – on Sunday morning on the Intracoastal Waterway. Of the four who went out – Stewart was the only one who came back alive.
On Tuesday, Stewart released a statement saying, “This is a profound tragedy for all of us who knew and loved Fernandas, Jayden and Mr. Willis. This is an incredibly emotional time and I am grateful for the outpouring of support while we continue to grieve the loss of our loved ones.”
Authorities found Stewart walking on the beach Monday morning after the group had left the day before from Sandsprit Park in Stuart in a 24-foot Sea Ray Laguna boat.
The sheriff’s office said the seas were choppy when the four went through the St. Lucie Inlet, heading for the open ocean. Stewart told investigators they were in 80 feet of water at around 9 a.m. when the boat began filling up. After it became submerged, they clung to the side.
Jones, Jayden and Bell later drowned. Medical Examiners confirmed this Tuesday.
Three bodies were recovered following a search. One of them was found near the House of Refuge museum – the other in the St. Lucie Inlet along with Stewart.
Calls poured in Monday as the bodies washed ashore.
“I was just running and saw two bodies,” a 911 caller is heard saying.
“I believe there’s a body thats washed up on the beach,” said another caller.
As for Stewart, he continues to recuperate in the hospital.
His neighbor contemplated what it must be like for Freeman to be the lone survivor.
“I’m glad hes alive but it stinks. He has to live through this trauma. I hope his family makes it through all this,” said Erica Freeman.
As for the boat, investigators will take a look at it as part of the investigation into the deadly incident.