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Account established to raise funds to help find missing swimmer

By Staff | Jun 22, 2016

An account has been set in the hopes of finding a Cape Coral man who went missing Sunday.

A GoFundMe account was created on Monday to raise funds to hire a team to continue searching for Javier Castro, 21, of 2944 S.W. Eighth Place. He went missing Saturday afternoon while swimming near Boca Grande. The United States Coast Guard conducted a search, but called it off Sunday night.

“We did end up suspending the search,” Petty Officer 2nd Class Ashley J. Johnson said on Tuesday. “When we suspend a search, it’s generally because the survivability rate is severely diminished.”

The search was called off at sunset, which was approximately 8:30 p.m.

She noted that Castro was not wearing a life jacket at the time of his disappearance.

“It is case by case,” Johnson said of the suspension. “There’s a lot of factors that lead into it.”

Cmdr. Randall Brown, deputy commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg, explained that the decision to suspend the search was a “difficult” one that was made “with a heavy heart.”

“I cannot imagine what Javier’s friends and family members are enduring during this difficult time,” he said via a prepared statement released Sunday. “Our thoughts and condolences go out to all of them.”

At 3:39 p.m. Saturday, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office received a call about a medical assist and possible drowning at the public beach at 184 Gulf Blvd., Boca Grande. Witnesses reported that they heard cries of distress and saw four people – two boys, two girls – in the water about 120 feet from shore.

According to a report, the waves were 3 feet to 5 feet high in water about 8 feet deep, with a strong current moving away from the shore. Two witnesses helped the females – Sydney Brewer, 18, of 406 S.W. Second Terrace, and Kaylynn Castro, 15, also of 2944 S.W. Eighth Place – back to the shore.

A man on a Jet Ski grabbed one of the men, identified as Christopher Castro, 19, also of 2944 S.W. Eighth Place, and brought him to shore. He was conscious but complained of swallowing water.

Christopher Castro was transported to Englewood Hospital and Medical Center.

Brewer and Kaylynn Castro were evaluated by paramedics on scene.

Officials reported on Saturday that they were swimming near the Boca Grande lighthouse.

“They had been on a sandbar and as the current began to shift outbound, the waves and current were too much for them,” James M. McDaniel, of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, said via a statement.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, Javier Castro was swimming with his family members. His father told authorities that his son was with one of his brothers when they were swept out by the rip current.

The jet skier reported seeing Javier Castro go underwater without a life jacket.

Officials reported that the U.S. Coast Guard crews covered 250 square nautical miles during 20 searches by air and sea looking for the man. Other participating agencies included the Cape, Charlotte County, Boca Grande and Englewood fire departments, as well as Florida Wildlife Commission.

Javier Castro’s family could not be reach for comment on Tuesday.

To donate to the GoFundMe account, visit online at: www.gofundme.com/2ah4uafs.

As of Tuesday evening, more than $3,100 had been donated to the fund.