Search continues for missing boaters in Lake Tarpon

7:40 PM, Dec 30, 2013   |    comments
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Willie Ragins III pictured with his mother in March 2013.

 


 


Tarpon Springs, Florida-- On perhaps any other day lakeside at Anderson Park would be a pleasant spot; sun on the water and birds about. But on Monday, as family members awaited news of two missing fishermen, park benches become seats of dread and Lake Tarpon an expanse of torment.

"I'm scared. I don't want them to find my son gone. I want them to find him hanging onto something-still here," said Saretha Ragins, the mother of one of the men.

STORY: Rescue crews resume search for missing boaters Monday

Willie Ragins, 43, and Willie Hightower, 64, were last heard from in a phone call on Saturday night about ten.

Since noon Sunday, law enforcement boats equipped with sonar have been searching the 25-hundred acre lake. Pinellas County's largest. On Monday a sheriff's helicopter also looped back and forth.

A few items from the boat have turned up. On Monday morning a red gas can and a red and white thermos were found floating, but still no signs of the 14-foot Jon Boat or the men themselves.

"Some of the challenges are that the water is dark; it's mucky at the bottom, which doesn't give very good visibility at all," said Cristen Rensel, a Pinellas Sheriff's spokesperson.

And along with law enforcement, some private boaters like Cary and Patty Young joined the search. The Youngs heard about the missing boaters and felt they just had to do something. "We thought we'd come out. We've got a couple more hours of sunlight, to see if we can come up with something," said Cary while driving his boat.

Monday's sunset brought law enforcement boats to shore. The search will continue Tuesday morning and about a dozen relatives of the missing men will also be back keeping watch.

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