Monday, December 11, 2017
Public safety

Pinellas sheriff: Body identified as one of two men who disappeared into Gulf of Mexico last week

ST. PETERSBURG — The body found off Egmont Key on Monday was identified as Andrew Charles Dillman, 27, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, who was one of two men who disappeared last week they were swept into the Gulf of Mexico. A boater reported seeing the body floating in the water around 2 p.m., deputies said, about three miles west of Egmont Key.

Dillman was a crew member aboard the Jaguar, a 71-foot vessel chartered by college students, who jumped into the water on Tuesday to rescue Jie Luo, a 21-year-old Chinese student studying at Colorado State University. Both ended up being carried away by the fast flowing tide in Pass-a-Grille Channel.

Dillman's was told informed Monday that he was found. The student's body has yet to be recovered.

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A group of 15 students chartered the boat but the waves were too rough to sail into the gulf, so the boat anchored near the north end of Shell Key. Five students jumped in to swim. But when the 21-year-old student had trouble swimming back to the boat, authorities said Dillman jumped in to try to rescue him. Neither was wearing a life jacket, and both were apparently caught in the outbound current in the gulf, according to the Sheriff's Office.

For three days, helicopters flew above the gulf while boats scoured the water. They conducted 39 searches totaling 80 aircraft and surface hours that covered more than 1,577 square miles — an area larger than the state of Rhode Island — before declaring Friday that the search and rescue mission had become a recovery operation.

Check tampabay.com for updates.

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