BRADENTON, Florida - Manatee County deputies recovered Patrick Mullins' boat Monday morning, but the Palmetto High School teacher remains missing.
His family says Mullins hasn't been feeling well recently. His sister-in-law, Jodi John, says, "He'd been having some neck pains and some headaches, so we're quite concerned that he may have taken ill on the boat."
Deputies say his wife came home around 7 p.m. Sunday and noticed Mullins and his 16-foot boat "Stump Knocker" were gone. Mullins' brother searched for him and, when he didn't turn up, the brother and wife called authorities.
The Manatee County Sheriff's Office began a search, but wasn't able to locate him Sunday night.
On Monday afternoon, Mullins' boat was found near the mouth of Tampa Bay, close to Egmont Key, but he was not onboard. Several agencies, including the Coast Guard and the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, are continuing their search.
Meanwhile, at Palmetto High School where Mullins works as a media specialist, some of his coworkers say his presence is already missed. Karla Brogdon, director of Guidance at the school, says, "He bends over backwards for the kids. He loves his job and loves to let everyone know he loves his job."
Brogdon says he was just as enthusiastic about his job in the military. "He is retired from the National Guard, so he was a military man. He took that job equally as serious." She adds, "The students love him. There were a few that found out today that he is missing and they're very upset."
They're not the only ones. Family members are also deeply concerned. Jodi John doesn't believe Mullins would have ventured out any farther than the Braden River, but she says there's been two tides, which may explain she why his boat was found near Egmont Key.
She says, "Anyone living along the Braden River, if you could please let us know if you run across anyone who's disoriented or feeling badly. Hopefully someone can help us find him well and get him safely home."
A heartfelt wish shared at Patrick Mullins' job as well. Brogdon adds, "My prayers go out to he and his family, and I hope to see him soon."
Several agencies, including the Coast Guard, plan to continue the search at first light on Tuesday.
Tammie Fields, 10 News