Coast Guard, deputies search for swimmer missing near Vero Beach

Jonathan Michael Christy PHOTO PROVIDED BY INDIAN RIVER COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — U.S. Coast Guard helicopters and boats were scanning the ocean for a swimmer believed to be missing since Saturday afternoon. Indian River County sheriff’s officials – who are also part of the search – posted a public alert on Sunday asking for help to find the man.

Jonathan Michael Christy, 46, of Indian River County, was last seen about 2:30 p.m. swimming in the water near the 900 block of Reef Road, east of State Road A1A and south of the Vero Beach city limits. Christy was at the beach with his wife before his disappearance, sheriff’s spokesperson Sgt. Kevin Jaworski said.

The incident prompted the response of several agencies – U.S. Coast Guard Southeast, Indian River County Sheriff’s Office, Indian River County Fire Rescue and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission – to track the ocean and shoreline for any sign of the man.

Sheriff’s officials began searching for Christy immediately after receiving a 911 call at 2:45 p.m. that reported him missing, Jaworski said. Officers and first responders were using boats, helicopters, all-terrain vehicles and airplanes during the search.

Deputies said Christy was last seen wearing gray board shorts and had goggles and a diving mask with him. Sheriff’s officials described Christy as 5-feet 9-inches tall, weighing 140 pounds with blonde hair and brown eyes.

Those with information on Christy’s whereabouts should call Coast Guard Sector Miami at 305-535-4472. Callers can also contact sheriff’s Det. Dennis McKenzie at 772-978-6202 or dmckenzie@ircsheriff.org.

Callers can remain anonymous by contacting Treasure Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-800-273-TIPS or tcwatch.org.

More IRC residents missing at sea

Christy is the third local man reported missing off the coast of Indian River County within the last two years.

Johnny Peters went missing in early January after he was last seen having a drink at Waldo’s Restaurant along Ocean Drive. Vero Beach police said Peters then walked southbound to Humiston Beach, where a surveillance camera captured Peters remove his jacket, shirt, hat and sandals before appearing to jump into the ocean.

Donald Waters, a kayaker, went missing in August 2021 after leaving from Sexton Plaza.

Boaters found Waters’ kayak 2.5 miles southeast of Sebastian Inlet State Park, Vero Beach police previously said. A Good Samaritan found a backpack with Waters’ personal items in the ocean – 12 miles east of Vero Beach – four days after his disappearance, Coast Guard officials said.

Peters and Waters lived in Vero Beach. Another man who also lived in Vero Beach, Dale Allan Hossfield, went missing in May 2022 after leaving out of the Fort Pierce Inlet on a solo boat trip in the morning.

In the afternoon that same day, Hossfield’s 29-foot long boat washed ashore – with the engines still running – in Melbourne Beach, Brevard County officials previously said.

In the cases of Peters, Waters and Hossfield, Coast Guard aircraft and boats combed thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean before suspending the searches.

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