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Boater surfaced unharmed

10:11 PM, Aug 22, 2012   |    comments
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ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. -- The man Atlantic Beach Police and the Coast Guard searched for Monday night has been found unharmed.

Shrimper Kenneth Thomas says he didn't even know the police were looking for him.

"It all happened so fast, the wind started bumping the beach, it blew us on top of the beach," said Kenneth Thomas.

Thomas says he was just wrapping up for the day when bad weather hit and his shrimping boat ran up on Atlantic Beach.

He says a net had caught in his propeller and he was trying to cut it free when the police showed up.

"They were demanding I come to shore, one officer hopped on the boat, told me to put the knife down, and go to shore. As soon as I went on shore, they hand cuffed me, had me in custody," he said.

Thomas says when he explained that a net was caught, they let him get back on the boat.

"I was under the assumption that after they took me out of handcuffs, I was free to go, that they let me go to take care of my boat," he said.

He says he jumped back in the water to free the net, police say he jumped in the water to escape.

Details aren't clear to why police couldn't locate him in the water.

We reached out to Atlantic Beach police, they didn't return our calls for comment.

The Coast Guard launched a search for Thomas, and couldn't find him for 12 hours.

"It was definitely an emergency, I only had a certain amount of time to get my boat off the beach. That's my livelihood, that's how I feed my family, it's all I know," he said.

Thomas told police he was safe and there's not currently a warrant out for his arrest.

"I'm just waiting to hear from Atlantic Beach to see if I need to turn myself in, or what needs to happen, I'm willing to cooperate in any way," said Thomas.




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