Search for missing Florida boaters on lake near Legoland

Search for missing Florida boaters on lake near Legoland

Winter Haven, Fla. (AP) – Authorities on Sunday searched for two boaters who were missing and believed to have drowned in an accident on a Central Florida lake. Legoland Theme Park.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at a news conference that two men jumped into Lake Eloise to save a third person from their group, a woman, who was struggling in the water. They became separated from the boat and have not been seen since Saturday evening.

A third person, 38-year-old Velky Velazquez, was rescued by sheriff’s deputies who were called after a 10-year-old girl on the boat dialed 911 on a cellphone. That child and an 8-year-old girl remained in the boat when it capsized and were safely rescued by deputies, who were in command of a fishing boat whose owner was cooperating with the effort, Judd said.

The lake adjacent to the Legoland theme park in Winter Haven was rough Saturday with 20 mph (32 km) winds and some white caps, Judd said. He added that the weather problems were compounded by the inexperience of the boatmen, who chartered the vessel for the day’s outing.

The trouble started when Velazquez jumped into the water with an anchor, the sheriff said.

“He’s very inexperienced, so he thinks you get in the water, set the anchor and then tie it to the boat,” Judd said.

The missing men have been identified as Orlando Ortiz, 32, Velazquez’s boyfriend, and Jeffrey Marrero, 34, the father of two daughters. Judd said the search will continue using sonar and underwater drones until they are found.

“We don’t let anyone’s loved ones stay in the lake. We’ll find them,” Judd said.

Winter Haven is located about 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Tampa.

Legoland issued a statement Saturday saying the incident was “not connected to us in any way” but added that a boardwalk at its hotel was being used by officials as a command center.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this difficult time,” the statement said.

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