Lake Eloise still closed as search for missing Polk County boaters enters 3rd day
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (WFLA) — Polk County deputies said they are continuing to search for two men who went disappeared after an incident on Lake Eloise over the weekend.
Saturday afternoon, Orlando Ortiz and Jeffrey Marrero went missing after trying to help Ortiz’s girlfriend, Velcky Velasquez, as she struggled with their rental boat’s anchor, which was not tied to the vessel before she jumped into the lake.
While Velasquez survived, she said she last saw the two men were last seen struggling to stay afloat as their boat floated away, according to Sheriff Grady Judd.
Deputies arrived to rescue Velasquez after one of Marrero’s two children, who remained on the boat, called 911. The children were saved from the boat soon after Velasquez was saved.
“The 10-year-old is, in essence, responsible for us saving the one lady,” Judd said Sunday.
However, the two men are believed to be dead after drowning in the lake’s rough waters, according to the sheriff.
Monday, the Polk County Sheriff’s said “four PCSO watercraft and sonar equipment, two FWC watercraft and sonar equipment, and a Seminole County Sheriff’s Office watercraft and their underwater drone” were deployed to search for the men.
Judd said until the men’s bodies are found, authorities will not leave the lake.
“We don’t allow anyone’s loved one to stay in a lake, and we show up the next morning,” he said Sunday. “We’re there. We’re involved. We’re searching for these two missing gentlemen as if they were our brothers or our children.”
In the meanwhile, Lake Eloise continues to be closed to the public as the search enters its third day, while all other lakes in the area remain open.
“However, anyone launching a boat onto Lake Summit will not be allowed through the canal leading into Lake Eloise,” the sheriff’s office said. “boats being launched at Lake Summit will have to remain on Lake Summit until further notice. The other canals leading into Lake Eloise are also blocked.”
As Reported by WFLA