Boater dies after jumping in water to rescue dog - FOX 13 News

Boater dies after jumping in water to rescue dog

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A boat slip sits empty in a Palm Harbor backyard and a community now deals with a heavy loss.

"John was just a great guy. He was always willing to help anyone out in anyway he could and he was just a real good friend," said Roy Carlson.

John Patti was loved by many. The 70-year-old also had a love for one thing.

"He loved boating. He loved being out on the water," said Carlson.

He also loved his dog named Rascal.

Saturday night, he and three friends were on his pontoon boat when Rascal jumped into the water. Patti jumped into the water to save the dog and disappeared under the water.

"He loved his dog he used to take him out and everything," said neighbor Alice Lawless.

Sheriff's deputies searched for Patti using sonar equipment, helicopters and boats.

Less than 12 hours after Patti was last seen in the water, deputies were called to Brooker Creek. It's an area right off Lake Tarpon and it is where they found Patti's body.

"It is a marshy, wooded area that there is a creek that runs through in the Palm Harbor area and that is where they were boating yesterday," said sheriff's office spokesperson Cristen Rensel.

Deputies said the water isn't clear where he went missing.

"The specific area of Brooker Creek that he was out there is a lot of debris under the water and therefore last night it made the conditions for our divers difficult for looking for him," said Rensel.

Those who knew Patti for years are having a hard time coping with the loss of their friend.

"He rode that lake so many times you know going around and everything," said Lawless.

The medical examiner will complete an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Rascal was found and is fine.

The sheriff's office said Patti's death appears accidental and not suspicious in nature.

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