A Palm Beach sheriff's deputy and his 9-year-old son are among three family members killed in a boating accident Sunday near Stuart, Florida, according to authorities and family.
Relatives said the missing boaters included Palm Beach County Sheriff's Deputy Fernandas Jones and his son, 9-year-old Jaden. Jones served as a Miami-Dade police officer for 20 years before joining the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, where he worked for a year and half, his wife said.
Also on board were Jones' father-in-law, Wills Bell, and his cousin, 45-year-old Robert Stewart, the lone survivor.
Stewart is in the hospital, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and U.S. Coast Guard officials announced Monday.
U.S. & World
Stories that affect your life across the U.S. and around the world.
Stewart told investigators 71-year-old Bell drifted off first, then Fernandas.
"Our survivor said he did have the 9-year-old in a life jacket and held on to him as long as he could, but was eventually not able to do so and the child drowned," explained Martin County Sheriff William Snyder.
The first body was found on a beach around 7 a.m. Monday near the House of Refuge at 301 SE MacArthur Blvd., NBC affiliate WPTV in West Palm Beach reports, citing Martin County Fire Rescue. The sheriff's office later tweeted that two other bodies were found.
WPTV's Chopper 5 spotted a capsized boat south of the St. Lucie Inlet at 8:20 a.m., and an MCSO helicopter picking up a man nearby.
Authorities said the boat got swamped and filled with water, but did not overturn. They said it appears to have stayed flat and below the surface.
The group left in a 24-foot Sea Ray boat around 8 a.m. Sunday for a fishing trip, according to Jones' wife, Michelle, who called authorities around 10 p.m. to report them missing. She said the men usually fished offshore near Stuart or the Intracoastal Waterway.
A small craft advisory was in effect Sunday, meaning strong winds were capable of producing dangerous wave conditions.
Search crews from Lake Worth and Fort Pierce were sent out to search for the missing boaters, according to the Coast Guard.
This is a developing story and will be updated as new information becomes available. Keep refreshing for updates.