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Tarpons Springs Fla--Boating Accident Leaves 1 Injured & 1 Missing in Gulf

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  • captstanm1
    Missing Boater Found

    ST. Petersburg Times--State

    Missing boater's body found

    The body was seen in the water near Anclote Key. A family member identified the 26-year-old man Saturday night.

    By JAMIE JONES, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published August 3, 2003

    They've been living somewhere between hope and grief, doing the only thing they could do: search.

    In the water. On the islands. Through the mangroves.

    Looking for Anthony Stevens.

    He had been lost at sea since Wednesday evening, when the 22-foot Mako he was traveling in slammed into a channel marker near Anclote Key.

    About 3:45 p.m. Saturday, a boater saw the body of a man floating in the water near Anclote Key.

    The Coast Guard took the body to shore, and investigators tried to determine whether it was Stevens.

    Meanwhile, his family waited.

    "We're hanging in there," said Stevens' father, Donald. "We're still in limbo."

    By 8 p.m., they knew: It was Stevens, a 26-year-old who grew up in Palm Harbor, loved the outdoors and rooted for his favorite team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    Inside a house in Tarpon Springs, the man who owned the boat, Randall Peacock, 42, was shaken, distraught and depressed. His head was swollen and his ears ached - injuries from the accident.

    Peacock has told investigators that Stevens was driving the boat as they traveled toward the mouth of the Anclote River.

    When they hit the marker, Peacock was thrown to the front and knocked unconscious, according to his wife, Shannon. He awakened bloody and confused, and did not see Stevens.

    He dived overboard, but could not find his friend, Shannon Peacock said. He radioed for help.

    Shannon Peacock said on Saturday evening that she had not yet told her husband the news.

    "I can't get him to eat," she said. "He's in a deep depression."

    The Peacocks own Peacock's Professional Cleaning, which cleans newly built houses, and Stevens has worked for the couple during the past three years.

    The couple visited Stevens' family on Friday, and they tried to comfort Peacock.

    "They were really good to my husband," Shannon Peacock said. "They told him they know it was an accident, that they don't blame him for anything. It's just so hard for him."

    Since Stevens disappeared, the Coast Guard, sheriff's deputies and scores of friends have been searching the Gulf of Mexico, about 11 to 14 feet deep around channel marker No. 38, where the accident occurred.

    The Coast Guard suspended its search Thursday evening, but friends continued. On Saturday, Stevens' two brothers spent hours on the water.

    Initially, officers were not certain that the body was Stevens because his clothing description did not match the man in the water.

    But on Saturday night, a family member identified Stevens, said Gary Morse, spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

    Morse said his officers, along with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, continue investigating the crash. They will try to determine precisely what happened and whether to file criminal charges, Morse said.

    Stevens' body was turned over to the Medical Examiner's Office, which will determine the cause of death.

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  • captstanm1
    Coast Guard Suspends Search for Missing Boater

    Naples Daily News

    Coast Guard suspends search for missing boater

    Saturday, August 2, 2003

    Associated Press

    ANCLOTE KEY — The Coast Guard suspended their search Thursday for a man thrown overboard when his boat hit a fixed navigational marker the previous night.

    The search was stopped at 8:25 p.m. after a helicopter and several small vessels scoured more than 100 square miles over two days.

    Coast Guard Group St. Petersburg received the distress call at 10:20 p.m. Wednesday from the owner of a 22-foot Mako vessel, who reported crashing into a marker about 1 1/2 miles southeast of Anclote Key. His passenger was ejected from the vessel.

    The Coast Guard launched a Jayhawk helicopter and a search and rescue boat to search for the missing boater. The Florida Wildlife and Conservation Commission is investigating the accident, according to Coast Guard Petty Officer Judy Silverstein.

    The boaters' identities have not yet been released.

    Fixed navigational markers are made of steel and tell boaters which direction to travel.

    Anclote Key is approximately 21 miles northwest of Tampa.

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  • Tarpons Springs Fla--Boating Accident Leaves 1 Injured & 1 Missing in Gulf


    Crash into marker leaves boater missing

    The other man on the boat was knocked unconscious. When he came to, his shipmate was gone.
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published August 1, 2003

    TARPON SPRINGS - As dusk gave way to night Wednesday, Anthony Stevens called a friend to say he would be home soon.

    It had been a good day on the water, but Stevens and Randall Peacock were motoring toward the mouth of the Anclote River. He estimated they would be at the dock in 20 minutes.

    Soon after, in the dark, Peacock's 22-foot Mako boat struck channel marker No. 38 about a mile off shore. The marker, on a 10-foot steel post, ripped into the right side of the hull, leaving a gash 3 feet deep and a foot wide. It cut through the fiberglass.

    Peacock, 42, of Tarpon Springs later told his wife that he was thrown into the front of the boat and knocked unconscious. He came to - he doesn't know how much later - to find himself covered in blood.

    Stevens, 26, was gone.

    Divers and pilots from local, state and federal agencies searched the area south of Anclote Key on Wednesday night and during the day Thursday without success. Thursday afternoon, four divers from the Pasco County Sheriff's Office covered an area 100 feet out all the way around the marker. They found nothing more than a few pieces of debris.

    "If he'd have been there, we'd have found him," sheriff's Sgt. Charlie Ellison said. The U.S. Coast Guard, Customs Service and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission also took part in the search.

    Along with searching for Stevens, officials were trying to piece together what happened Wednesday night. A friend said Stevens called him sometime after 9 p.m. Authorities learned of the emergency about 10 p.m.

    "We're trying to corroborate physical evidence with witness statements," said Gary Morse, a conservation commission spokesman.

    Peacock told officials he was not steering at the time of the accident, Morse said.

    The boat was going more than 15 mph, "a high rate of speed," he said. There is no speed limit in the waterway where the accident occurred. The channel marker has reflector tape.

    "These buoys are relatively easy to see if you're looking for them," Morse said.

    He said the boat had a spotlight and radar onboard, and that both could have picked up the marker. But he did not know if they were working.

    The men were not wearing life jackets, he said. The water around the marker is 11 to 14 feet deep, Ellison said.

    The collision left Peacock with a concussion, whiplash, many bruises and a cut on his forehead that took 10 stitches to close. He was treated at Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital and released, said his wife, Shannon Peacock.

    Mrs. Peacock said her husband has been distraught since the accident. He told her that after he awakened on the boat, he searched for Stevens, then dived overboard and swam around looking for him, returning to the boat when it started to drift away. He had to work on the damaged radio to call the Coast Guard and set off flares to help rescuers find the boat.

    He called her from the hospital, saying, "He's missing. You have to find him."

    The Peacocks own Peacock's Professional Cleaning, which cleans newly built houses, and Stevens has worked for the couple on and off for three years.

    Stevens grew up in Palm Harbor and also has worked as an auto and boat detailer, said his friend and housemate, Danny Walling of Tarpon Springs. He was getting ready to apply for a job with a lawn treatment company.

    "He's a good guy," said Walling, who also called him a big Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan and a lover of the outdoors.

    As searchers returned to the dock at the Anclote River Park late Thursday afternoon, Walling said he was disturbed that they didn't stay out longer.

    A few miles away, Mrs. Peacock said Stevens' friends were talking about organizing their own search in the hope that he survived. She hopes that he made it to one of the sandbars off shore where a boater could find him.

    "You never know," she said. "You never think the worst. I'm just going to do what I can to try to find him. . . . He could have drifted into the mangroves and be hanging onto the wood and be hurt. I know he's a fighter."

    - Times researcher Cathy Wos contributed to this report. Richard Danielson can be reached at 727 771-4311 or [email protected]

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