MULBERRY, Fla. — The body of a 62-year-old man from Bartow was recovered by a sheriff's office dive team after he and another man went fishing Wednesday afternoon.
Bruce Morgan was found in about 9 feet of water hours after he was reported missing around 5 p.m. on a pond north of Arnaz Drive, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Office. He died of an apparent drowning, it adds.
Deputies say he and 50-year-old William Franklin from Mulberry fell from their fishing boat. Franklin reportedly told law enforcement he tried to help Morgan but started to get tangled in the underwater vegetation. Franklin was able to swim to shore.
In a statement, Sheriff Grady Judd indicated the men did not have safety equipment on board their boat.
"This is such a tragedy…our prayers are with Mr. Morgan’s family and friends," Judd said in the statement. "What makes this drowning more tragic is that it could have been avoided with the required safety equipment such as life jackets or floatation devices.
"I cannot stress enough how important it is for each person on a watercraft to have some sort of safety equipment to help keep them afloat in situations like this."
The boat was found about 50 yards offshore in about 12 feet of water, the sheriff's office said.
An investigation is ongoing.