BREAKING NEWS: Sheriff A.J. Smith confirmed Wednesday evening on a Facebook post that the body of Bruce Maynor Jr. had been recovered.
"The Franklin County Sheriffs Office wishes to thank all the first responders and volunteers who assisted in the search. Our hearts are heavy but thankful the search is over. Please keep the family in your thoughts and prayers," he wrote.
As of Wednesday at noon:
The search for a missing Thomasville, Georgia man, presumed drowned Sunday off St. George Island beach, continued at daylight Wednesday.
“We’re actively patrolling the beach. It’s even too rough for boats to do a search, the water’s so turned up,” said Sheriff A.J. Smith Monday. “Conditions are really treacherous. We’re searching as hard as we can.”
Members of the St. George Island Volunteer Fire Department were joined Sunday afternoon by a helicopter crew from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, as well as one from the Bay County Sheriff's Office.
Smith said a boat from the FWC office in Carrabelle came over Sunday, but was initially limited to what it could do today.
By Tuesday, the weather had improved and a bleak wait engulfed both law enforcement and the Georgia families, waiting for their loved one to be returned from the sea,
Smith said Bruce Maynor, Jr., 29, went into the choppy, four to six foot sea, about 11: 30 a.m. Sunday to rescue a 12-year-old boy who was part of the extended family, from Thomasville and Cairo, Georgia, who had made the day trip to the island.
“He got caught up in the rip tide, became distressed and handed the kid off, and he got pulled under,” said Smith. The sheriff said a red flag was flying on the beach, warning beachgoers of the unsafe conditions
Clarice Powell, the sheriff’s office’s victim advocate, has helped counsel the family, with the Rev. Themo Patriotis, from the First United Methodist Church, praying with Maynard’s family, including his mother, sister, wife and children, the sheriff said.
He said members of the community have been assisting in any way they can, with the Buccaneer Inn, Blue Parrot Oceanfront Café and Harry A’s all donating lodging and meals to them and the first responders.
"To me, he's a hero," Maynor’s sister Natisha told a Tallahassee television station
After Maynor rushed in to save the young man’s life, he was swept away by the swift current.
"The only thing I heard him say is 'come here, brother-in-law.' But I couldn't, I couldn't save him," Willie Stinson, Maynor's brother-in-law, told the station.
"He gave his life for a life. He was a hero," Maynor's mother, Angela Smith, told a Panama City television station. “It's just a hurting thing for to see a good man like my son was just gone. It hurts. It just really hurts."
Stinson told the reporter that “He was hollering brother-in-law come here, come here. I was hollering back, brother-in-law I can't make it, I can't make it. The tide is too big. He was like, come on brother-in-law, come here, come here, come here. By the time I said, I can't, again, six guys ran and jumped in the water."
St. George Island Volunteer Fire Department Jay Abbott said Maynor’s body was seen floating face down about 70 yards off shore not long afterwards, but he then disappeared from view.
Smith said the public beach remained closed through Wednesday in the section behind the lighthouse and the Blue Parrot, where the incident occurred.
"There's no way people should be in the water," said Smith. "We're in recovery mode, we've closed the beach, probably for about a half mile. People need to stay off the area."