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Missing boater identified

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Updated: 5/27/2013 6:35 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said a man in his 40s jumped in the St. Johns River in the Ortega area Sunday afternoon and hasn't been seen since.

Search crews called off the search around 11 p.m. Sunday with still no sign of the man. They continued searching first thing Monday morning and the search continues.

Investigators said James Ricks Jr. was with five other people on a boat when he went in the water to cool off.

"An individual was boating on the water all day long, he stopped the motor and went in the water for a swim and immediately the people who were still on the boat noticed that he was in distress," said Sharon Scott of JSO.

Scott said the people still on the vessel threw the man a lifeline but he never resurfaced.

Multiple agencies including Florida Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Coast Guard joined the search. Helicopters were also seen flying over the water near Riverside looking for any sign of the man.

"The family said he was a strong swimmer. We have to see what happened, he could've hit a rock, he could've had a heart attack," said Tony Wright of Florida Fish and Wildlife.

Wright said they are treating this as a boating accident because the vessel was not anchored when the man went into the water.

The people who were with the man were visibly upset as they were being questioned by police on scene. Crews said they will keep searching until all their efforts have been exhausted.

Investigators said the vessel belongs to the Ricks.

The other people on the boat have been identified as Harrison Barr of Jacksonville; Charlotte Lundy of Perry; Pamela O'Neal, Jennifer Ricks and Phillip L. Smith, all of Jacksonville.
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