Search suspended for missing paddleboarder Jeffrey Comer

10:30 PM, Apr 30, 2012   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida --  The Coast Guard has suspended its search for missing paddleboarder Jeffrey Comer.

Coast Guard helicopters and cutters scoured Gulf waters on Monday looking for the 50-year-old.

The avid paddleboarder disappeared near Fort De Soto Saturday afternoon.

His Mercedes was found parked nearby. His personal belongings -- including his keys and wallet -- were found undisturbed in a storage section of the paddleboard he took out for a ride late Saturday afternoon.

"We don't know, it could be a number of different things," said Tampa police spokesperson Andrea Davis, "But we're not going to rule out any possibility until we have the answers."

At Comer's address on Harbor Island, a boat slip still holds some of his other boards, including the one from a Facebook photo that reads "you only live once."

People who live and work on Harbor Island say Comer has lived here for several years and has been active in the Homeowner's Association.

They describe him as very friendly and very athletic.

Mindy Moore, who has known Comer for several years, works at nearby Cafe Dufrain restaurant. She says Comer would stop in a couple of times a week -- if not to eat, at least to say hello.

"Always a very active man, very into sports," said Moore, "Rock climbing. Paddle boarding. Things of that nature. A very fit guy."

Richard Canto, a colleague who works at Condominium Associates property management on Harbor Island, was likely one of the last people to have seen Comer before he disappeared. Late Friday afternoon, the two exchanged niceties about big plans for the next couple of days.

"I asked him what he was going to be doing for the weekend and he told me he was going to be paddleboarding," said Canto, who was shocked to hear that was the last time anyone had seen Comer.

Paddleboarding is a passion for Comer, say those who know him best. Sometimes he would do so in the waters around Harbor Island, but like many people who enjoy our local waters, Comer would also visit Fort De Soto.

Enthusiasts familiar with the area where Comer decided to paddle on Saturday, like boater Andrew Bretko, say it can be a treacherous. There are high waves and strong currents. He says it can be dangerous even for the most experienced.

"I feel bad for the guy, definitely. The ocean is a big place and pretty unforgiving," said Bretko.

"It's always unfortunate when we have to suspend a search, because our main focus is to locate the individual and return him safely to his family," said Lt. Ben Oloughlin, command duty officer at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. "Our thoughts and prayers remain with the family and friends of Mr. Comer."

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