Tampa, Florida -- Monday morning authorities confirmed that the body recovered Saturday from the water off the Courtney Campbell Causeway is the man who was reported missing from a rented boat on Friday afternoon.
The man is Mario Lucero Saenz, 34, of Tampa.
Tampa police say Saenz was in a rental boat with his fiancé, Erika Intriago, when the boat hit a sandbar around 3 p.m. Friday. Saenz jumped off the boat to push it off the sandbar, but went underwater. The boat drifted as he attempted to remain afloat, resurfacing twice. Intriago tossed a life vest to him but Saenz didn't resurface a third time. She called 911. Dive teams from several agencies responded to search for the man on Friday.
The search resumed Saturday morning with dive teams. The body of Saenz was found near the area where he went missing. Authorities say he'd rented the boat from Baywatch Water Sports.
10 News reached out to Blind Pass Boat & Jet Ski Rental at 9555 Blind Pass Road in St. Petersburg Beach. Robert Myers says they have tough guidelines in place for their boat rentals and require that all drivers have experience relevant to the area and the conditions they will be operating in. Renters also must have a valid state or federally-issued I.D., a major credit card for a $500 deposit, and proof of N.A.S.B.L.A. or equivalent boaters safety course. (Required for drivers born Jan. 1, 1988, or later.)
Myers says they will turn away people who want to rent if they're just ready to be out on a boat safely. They mandate that renters have at least 100 hours of boating drive time. That amount can go up or down depending on the conditions on the water that day. He says, "The three things it really boils down to is how much experience do you have - where did you get that experience and what kind of conditions are you going to be going out into."
He says just because you've been boating on a lake doesn't mean those conditions are comparable to boating in our area.
Myers also says about once a month they have a customer run a boat aground and that's okay. He says it comes down to pride sometimes. He adds, "We get to be your guardian angel on the water." He says sometimes renters don't want to call them for help even when they need it. He says they encourage it though and will not only get the boat back to shore but for a $50.00 fee they will drop of a captain so the boat excursion can continue.
He says, "When it comes to pushing a couple thousand pound boat off a sandbar and you don't know where you're at or what you're doing the best thing you can do is to drop anchor so the boat doesn't float away when the tide comes in."
Myers says you should always file a float plan too.
Here are six things you should always have on your boat before you head out on the water:
1) A life jacket for everyone on board
2) Fire extinguisher
3) 3 Flares
4) Sound producing device
5) Tracking device
6) Boat registration