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UPDATED: Bodies of Missing Lake Tarpon Boaters Found

Scott Keeler
Tampa Bay Times

UPDATED January 2, 2014 6:30 p.m.

Pinellas County Sheriff's deputies discovered the boat belonging to two fishermen whose bodies were discovered on Lake Tarpon Wednesday.

Sheriff's officials say the aluminum Jon Boat was found submerged in about 13 feet of water off the east coast of the lake Thursday afternoon. They add that the boat didn't appear to have any significant damage, but a thorough inspection was going to be done on it over the next few days.

ORIGINAL POST January 1, 2014 9:29 p.m.

After a four-day search, the bodies of a pair of Plant City fishermen who disappeared on Lake Tarpon this past weekend were found.

Pinellas County Sheriff's officials say the bodies of Willie Ragins, 43, and Willie Hightower, 64, were located near the center of Lake Tarpon at around 3:40 p.m. Wednesday by deputies and citizens assisting in the search.

Deputies had been using sonar equipment, helicopters and boats in the search for Ragins and Hightower since Sunday afternoon. The pair went fishing in a 14-foot Jon Boat Saturday afternoon and were last heard from around 10 p.m. that night.

The medical examiner will conduct autopsies to determine the cause of death, but sheriff's officials say, at this time, both deaths appear to be accidental and not suspicious in nature.

While searchers reportedly found a number of items from the aluminum fishing boat, the craft itself still hasn't been found.

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