Man missing after canoe overturns in lake

Published On: May 24 2014 08:20:18 AM EDT   Updated On: May 24 2014 09:53:01 PM EDT

VIDEO: Sheriff's deputies were called to the Landmark at Vista Grande apartments in Orange Park about 4 a.m. Saturday. They tell us a woman and two men were in the canoe that overturned in a lake. The woman swim to shore and one man was rescued, but a third is still missing.


The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has suspended the search for man who apparently drowned after a canoe overturned with two others in it.

FWC officials say the search has gone from rescue to recovery, and will resume Sunday morning.

Early Saturday morning, two men and a woman in their 20s who lived at the Landmark at Vista Grande apartments went out in a canoe at an adjoining lake.

According to the Clay County Sheriff's Office, when the canoe flipped over, the woman, Taylor Stafford, 27 swam to shore and one man clung to a bucket until he could be rescued. That man has been identified by Florida Fish and Wildlife as Eric Benavidez, 27.  Richmond Gard-Chambers, 26 is still missing.

A witness described the scene as Gard-Chambers struggled to stay afloat.

"He was screaming, help! I can't swim! I'm going under," said Christian Findeisen

"Me and my brother were getting ready to double team it and swim out together to go after him. But emergency response told us to stay ashore," Findeisen said.

The Sheriff's Office dive team and other resources were involved.

Investigators don't know if alcohol was involved.

This article will be updated as more information becomes available.


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