Saturday, Aug 23, 2014
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Search resumes for boaters missing on Lake Tarpon


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Pinellas County deputies are resuming their search this morning for two Plant City men who went missing in Tarpon Springs on Saturday.

Willie Hightower, 64, and Willie Ragins, 43, went to Lake Tarpon on Saturday afternoon to fish in a 14-foot, aluminum Jon Boat. The pair was last heard from around 10 p.m. Saturday, according to Pinellas County deputies.

Deputies returned today with two boats, each equipped with Sonar devices that offer three-dimensional views of the bottom of the lake, and are being assisted by rescue crews from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

A dive team also is on site, sheriff’s department spokeswoman Cristen Rensel said.

Family members waited anxiously at A.L. Anderson Park while the search was under way.

“It’s undescribable,” said Ragins’ sister, Taura Ragins, 34. “I can’t tell you how I feel.”

Then her sister-in-law, Lachandra Ragins, completed her thoughts.

“It’s the now knowing,” she said.

Members of the sheriff’s office marine and air units responded to Lake Tarpon just after noon Sunday to begin the search.

Most of the search had been called off Sunday night due to low visibility after sunset.

Authorities have used several forms of sonar equipment in addition to helicopters and boats to search for the anglers.

On Sunday, search crews recovered two coolers from the northern part of the lake, along with a chair attached to a post, a tackle box and life jacket.

This morning, crews located a red gas can and small red Thermos.

Members of the sheriff’s office marine and air units responded to Lake Tarpon just after noon Sunday to begin the search.

Most of the search had been called off Sunday night due to low visibility after sunset.

Authorities have used several forms of sonar equipment in addition to helicopters and boats to search for the anglers.

Area boaters and visitors are asked to call the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office if they see anything suspicious.

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