Body Found Off Florida: Feds Poised To Take Over Death Investigation

September 8, 2021Noelle Wiehe
Florida attorney Jim Evans found

Florida Fish and Wildlife agents hunt for missing diver Jim Evans, 50, Sunday, Sept. 5, 2021, about 30 nautical miles northeast of Daytona Beach. The body of the attorney was found three days later near Port Canaveral, Florida, about 50 nautical miles southwest of where he disappeared while diving for lobsters. US Coast Guard Southeast photo.

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — A recreational boater on Tuesday found the body of a missing Florida attorney, the US Coast Guard told Coffee or Die Magazine.

Jim Evans, 50, went missing Friday while diving for lobsters about 30 nautical miles northeast of Daytona Beach.  

Despite a maritime dragnet that lasted more than 100 hours and canvassed 5,297 square nautical miles of the Atlantic Ocean, federal, state, and local agencies couldn’t locate the man. 

Instead, a “good Samaritan” — a private citizen who assisted the government — discovered Evans’ body drifting about 8 miles southeast of Port Canaveral.

“The good Samaritan said they happened upon the body and then immediately notified the Coast Guard through Channel 16,” said Coast Guard Public Affairs Specialist 1st Class David Micallef

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Boaters rely on Channel 16 for distress, safety, and calling purposes when operating within US territorial waters.

Micallef said the unidentified boater notified Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville watch standers at 1:42 p.m. Tuesday, more than a day after authorities suspended the search for Evans.

The Coast Guard sortied a small boat crew to retrieve the body, which was brought to the Brevard County Medical Examiner’s Office.

The cause of death has not yet been determined. 

The US Coast Guard cutter Skipjack suspended the search for missing 50-year-old diver Jim Evans off Daytona Beach Monday. A boater found the body outside of the search area and contacted the USCG on VHF Channel 16. Image courtesy of US Coast Guard.

An autopsy is slated for Wednesday, but results might not be released until later, according to the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office. 

“He may not give a cause of death today, he may [delay] it based on waiting on toxicology results and any kind of tissue sample results or any of those things, because with the body having been in the water for multiple days, sometimes it takes a little while to come up with the exact cause,” said Deputy Tod Goodyear, the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson.

“The Coast Guard will be the investigating agency unless something was found in the autopsy that made it suspicious, then actually it would be the FBI, because we don’t have jurisdiction where he was actually diving, because he was way out supposedly off the coast,” he added.

Read Next: Inside the Coast Guard’s Mass Rescue of Stranded Ice Fishermen on Wisconsin’s Sturgeon Bay

Noelle Wiehe
Noelle Wiehe

Noelle is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die through a fellowship from Military Veterans in Journalism. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and interned with the US Army Cadet Command. Noelle also worked as a civilian journalist covering several units, including the 75th Ranger Regiment on Fort Benning, before she joined the military as a public affairs specialist.

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