ARASOTA, Fla. (AP) — A recent high school graduate drowned after jumping of a malfunctioning paddleboat in the middle of a Florida lake, authorities said Friday.
NewsNation affiliate WFLA reported that 18-year-old Jalen Smith’s body was pulled from the lake at Nathan Benderson Park.
Smith and a friend jumped out of the paddleboat and the friend swam to shore, then called 911 when he saw Smith struggling, according the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office. Divers found Smith’s body more than six hours later.
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The drowning appears to be accidental, investigators said.
Smith was a defensive end on his high school football team and planned to go to college in the fall.
“He was beloved by just about everybody on our campus, was a great student,” Sarasota High Football Coach Brody Wisemen told the Herald Tribune. “He was a really good football player, and he was a leader for us. And you know, a kid that was really popular that a lot of people looked up to, and everybody’s hurt pretty bad about it.”