Teen drowns trying to swim across Black Creek

MIDDLEBURG, Fla. -- The body of a 19-year-old from Orange Park was found in Black Creek in Middleburg Wednesday evening.

Dive crews spent more than three hours searching for Howard Wiley IV near the Main Street boat ramp.

First responders say he drowned while attempting to swim across the creek. He went missing right before 3 p.m.

Witnesses say they heard Wiley screaming for help and several people jumped into the water attempting to save him. Including 15-year-old Jeffrey Thompson.

"I saw him come up and then he went back down," said Thompson. "I just dove straight in as soon as I saw him. And then I tried going under the water to look but there was no hope."

Hope dimmed through the evening as the Clay County Sheriff's office dive team and marine units searched feverishly for Wiley. The creeks murky waters made it difficult for crews to find the teen. Authorities say divers searched the area where Wiley was found twice and the third time they discovered his body there.

"My heart goes out to the family," said Michaela Thompson.

Wiley's friends and family were visibly shaken by the sudden loss as they burst into tears and screamed out when arriving on scene near the creek.

"It's tragic," said Kevin Griffin. "I have a lot of nieces and nephews that come out here to swim. And it could be anyone's loved one. I feel bad for the family."

There is a sign posted warning of the creeks dangers. It reads "No swimming within 100 feet of boat ramp."

"It has been posted for many years but this is a popular swim location despite the signs," said Mary Justino with the Clay County Sheriff's Office. "We do send deputies there periodically to ask swimmers to get out. But as you can imagine we can't have someone posted here 24/7."

There are markers near the boat ramp where three other people have lost their lives while either swimming in the creek or accidentally driving into it.

Justino says going forward they are urging people to think twice about swimming in Black Creek near the boat ramp.


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment