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Deputies search for missing boaters on Lake Tarpon

Deputies search for missing boaters on Lake Tarpon

TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. (970 WFLA)Pinellas County deputies said they are searching for two missing boaters on Lake Tarpon.

Deputies said the two boaters went fishing in a 14-foot aluminum Jon boat on Lake Tarpon in the late afternoon hours on Saturday, December 28. Authorities said the pair was last heard from around 10:00 p.m. Saturday evening.

Deputies said they were contacted Sunday and began searching for the boaters around noon. The two boaters have been identified as 43-year-old Willie Ragins and 64-year-old Willie Hightower, both of Plant City, according to the PCSO.

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office has two boats with side scan sonar and an airboat in the water as well as the flight unit searching from the helicopter, officials said.

Florida Fish and Wildlife and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office are assisting the search efforts and both have a boat on Lake Tarpon with sonar, officials said.

Various citizens from around Tampa Bay have also come to Lake Tarpon to assist in their own search, deputies said.

During the course of the search, deputies said they found items belonging to the boaters including two coolers, a life jacket, a tackle box, a boat chair, a red plastic gasoline can and a small red and white thermos which were found in various locations in the north section of the lake.

Boaters and visitors in the area are asked to call the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office should they see anything suspicious.

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